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Luminous We Are

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Dyslexia: There are spell check mistakes and missing words because I have a language disability.

AN: So, Price Paid was more than a bit dark and I really need more time travel, so here we are. It starts out much lighter than that one though :D

Chapter 1 - They Are My Own

Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, newly-elected Council Member, was a bit miffed when he realized that the Padawan he had chosen had been assigned to Anakin.

Anakin, whose status as General made Obi-Wan worry about the challenges he would face as he was forced to deal with the darkest of temptations. He was only nineteen, for Force's sake!

Anakin wasn't ready to be responsible for so much, let alone the education of another Jedi Learner who was dealing with her own aggressive tendencies during a war.

Obi-Wan found Master Yoda, and before he could so much as ask, Yoda spoke, "Accept Initiate Tano, did Skywalker?"

Obi-Wan gritted his teeth, careful to draw on his shields to keep his frustration at bay. "I had been under the impression that the Council would be discussing my request."

"Approved of Tano and Skywalker, we have."

"And my request for a Padawan?" Obi-wan asked. Specifically, Ahsoka Tano.

"Youngest on the Council, you are. A large portion of the army, do you lead. A Padawan, you are not meant to have. Advise Skywalker still, must you."

Obi-Wan bristled.

Was Anakin's knighting a farce?

"With all due respect, Master, Anakin no longer listens to me."

"Learn this, he must."

Obi-Wan wanted to shake Yoda. Instead, he bowed and left the meditation room.

He didn't make it down the hall before Mace joined him.

Obi-Wan didn't look at him as they walked together.

"I'm sorry, Obi-Wan," Mace said into the silence between them.

Obi-Wan's shoulder's tensed. "If you are sorry, why did you agree to it?"

"Yoda has always acted on his own when it comes to his line."

Obi-Wan came to a halt and met Mace's gaze. "Are you saying this wasn't a decision made by the Council?"

"You're on the Council now, my friend. Were you a part of any discussion?"

Obi-Wan's heart hurt. "I do not regret training Anakin. I chose to be his Master, but I also chose Ahsoka to be my apprentice. I felt our connection in the Force. If Qui-Gon hadn't died, I think she would have been my first apprentice. I know I would have waited longer after graduating to knighthood to be anyone's teacher."

Mace looked solemn. "It pains me that you think so lowly of yourself, even now."

"How can I not?" Obi-Wan asked. "I've failed Anakin. To this day he questions his place among us. Anakin is no closer to finding inner peace now than the day he joined us. I failed Qui-Gon, I never lived up to the person he raised me to be."

"Obi-Wan," Mace sighed, "you were one of the Order's most highly respected initiates. I agree that you may have been too young to be Anakin's Master, but who is to say that anyone else might have never reached him at all. No one can deny the partnership the two of you make—many are envious of your mission success rate."

"If you remember, I was aged out. And I remember you as being among the most reluctant to let me back."

"I wasn't reluctant to take you back," Mace said. "I was unsupportive of Qui-Gon taking you back as his apprentice and of Yoda's meddling. Qui-Gon almost let you get killed, be enslaved, and only by threatening to kill yourself did Qui-Gon finally accept you. Qui-Gon's issues with Xanatos were far from resolved."

"You think Qui-Gon and I were a bad match?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Most did," Mace said. "Not because he was a poor teacher, but because Jinn was stubborn. Force that man to do anything he was reluctant to do and he would rail against it. You didn't deserve to suffer for that. Perhaps, given more time, you both would have complemented each other well. But Yoda's machinations were uncalled for."

Obi-Wan frowned. "I got myself sent to the Agricorps."

Mace snorted. "Obi-Wan… Do you truly believe we thought you had been the one to attack Bruck Chun? Regardless of whatever taunts the two of you exchanged, you were not in the wrong to defend yourself. Did you not notice that there were no Agricorp representatives on Bandomeer, just you and Qui-Gon?"

Obi-Wan shook his head, feeling slow only because what he was being told was so far from long-held beliefs he had based his own image of himself on. "No other Master showed any interest in me."

Mace smiled sadly. "That's because Yoda took interest in you. By the time you were eleven, everyone in the Temple believed you would be Yoda's next apprentice."

Obi-Wan gaped at him. His entire world view shifted, every event in his childhood taking on entirely new meaning. His voice was low and more fragile than he meant it to be as he asked, "Yoda was going to be my Master?"

Mace laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Qui-Gon's hesitations were based on his own shortcomings, never yours. Obi-Wan, your path has always been that of a Jedi Knight. Never believe that your promotion to the Council was unearned."

Obi-Wan stepped back from him, his emotions a riot within him.

"Obi-Wan—" Mace offered, reaching out.

But Obi-Wan took another step back. "I need to go meditate."

He turned his back on Mace, his mind spinning as everything in his past took on a new hue, deepened by different shadows.

The guilt he felt whenever he thought of Qui-Gon took a back row seat.

Obi-Wan had always been indebted to the man for allowing him to become a Knight. As Anakin's Master, Obi-Wan had begun wondering if becoming a Knight had been a mistake. Perhaps if he had stayed with the AgriCorps he could have done the galaxy more good.

He had begun to wonder that more and more as Anakin grew further away from him and after Geonosis when so many of his brothers and sisters, as well as the clones that fought as an indentured army, had died to rescue him.

But all those doubts? All those regrets?

Obi-Wan found a spot far into the Room of a Thousand Fountains, to a place where he had gone as a youngling. He folded down into the soft patch of grass, the trickling of water from a waterfall stone fountain, isolating him.

Before hitting puberty, before the months approaching his thirteenth birthday, before he had grown restless and doubtful of the future he had always believed in, he had enjoyed meditating.

It tore at him now, knowing what Yoda had stolen from him: his faith in himself.

Meditating had been a balm when he believed he had a place, a home with the Jedi.

Being sent to the AgriCorps was not as it should have been. Yes, for humans thirteen was often considered the cut off point. The next year, or even a few years, Masters would work with the initiate to find the Corp that would fit them best or even choosing a career or schooling outside the Order which was far rarer, given the corps had no family restrictions.

A handful of Obi-Wan's crechemates had chosen to join the Exploration Corps, and his once best friend, Bant, had even left her Padawanship to join the MediCorps. It wasn't an abrupt process, it wasn't a cruelty, and it wasn't a divorce from the Jedi Order.

It had only been so for Obi-Wan because his being sent to Bandomeer had been a punishment for 'attacking' Bruck Chun.

Obi-Wan had intended to direct Anakin to consider the Exploration Corps, but had been forbidden from doing so when the war started.

But in his heart, Obi-Wan knew Anakin belonged in a starship, exploring the galaxy, sent on missions where being able to defend oneself was as important as having compassion for others. The Exploration Corps was what Anakin wanted the Jedi Knights to be: Knights who partnered with communities, such as Alderaan and Naboo, on missionary missions. Rehoming slaves and searching beyond the Republic for those in need.

Anakin could return to his mother, he would be allowed to be with her. He would be allowed to marry and start a family.

Disconnected from the whims of the Senate, not sent into any political conflicts to negotiate peace or sent into places where fighting was necessary, the pull of the Dark Side would be less. Attachments wouldn't be a problem, because no one would use a Corpsman's loved one to threaten the Order or the Republic. It was why the Coruscant Jedi had a measure of disconnect from the Corps.

And Yoda had made Obi-Wan see it as punishment. Just as Obi-Wan feared discussing the topic with Anakin when he was younger, afraid that Anakin would see it as Obi-Wan had seen it; of being unwanted and untrusted.

All of the things he now knew of the Corps were what he had learned later in life, while he searched for other options for Anakin when the cultural rifts between them seemed insurmountable.

Yoda had shielded Obi-Wan from that wisdom. Yoda had also forbidden him from suggesting Anakin toward that path now that he was old enough to understand that it wasn't his Master wanting to be rid of him. But Yoda had been explicit about Obi-Wan not having that discussion with his brother.

Kriff that, Obi-Wan thought. He let out a long breath, sinking further into the Force.

He would discuss the Corps with Anakin, who could marry his lady love. Anakin, who thought he was hiding his affair so well.

Obi-Wan wanted Anakin happy more than they needed him as a general. He was too powerful to tempt toward this much darkness anyway. Anakin could do so much more good saving people rather than killing them.

Obi-Wan knew that his place was in this war. Sometimes, he wondered if he was destined for it. From Melida/Daan, to Mandalore, to Naboo, and now to the Clone Wars, war came as naturally to him as water was to a fish.

It grieved him, because war was a horrible thing, but to not fight, to allow others to be slaughtered? To watch people, children, die and not fight against it was not in him. And he was strong enough to handle the personal cost of that. He had a hardness in himself that allowed him to acknowledge suffering and work past it.

Anakin felt too deeply, and Obi-Wan feared what this war would do to him in the long run. What would Anakin have to sacrifice to continue in this war? To feel the Force as he did and feel the death around in such numbers…

Obi-Wan had tried to get him to a healer, a counselor, about what he knew Anakin had suffered. Even his own experiences hadn't been the most extreme, being raised in a slave quarter couldn't have been sorrowless. What had Anakin felt? What horrors had been imprinted on his subconscious because of it?

But all such attempts to even talk through those subjects had proved useless after Anakin came back from a meeting with Chancellor Palpatine. It had been Anakin's thirteenth birthday, a day he had gotten into a fight with an initiate. Anakin had said that if Obi-Wan thought he needed a healer then he thought he was weak.

All future attempts to get Anakin more help than Obi-Wan could offer failed, which was around the same time Obi-Wan began to resent Palpatine, and that had only furthered the wedge between himself and Anakin.

No one listened to Obi-Wan when he spoke of his mistrust and dislike of the 'humble' Chancellor. He alone seemed to be bothered by Palpatine's exceeding the term limit.

Obi-Wan sighed and sank ever deeper into the Force, returning to his thoughts on Yoda's manipulations.

Yoda had done to Ahsoka what he had done to Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan vowed he would be there for Ahsoka, whether Anakin liked it or not. Ahsoka, after all, was the minor in this situation.

He shuddered at the thought that she would be in this war too, that they were sending so many of their young into this horrific war.

The Force seemed to hug him, and he held on to it, leaning into that mystical embrace. Behind his closed eyes, he saw only starlight, a glittering galaxy of stars, of life, of beauty.

The Force always humbled him, always made him grateful for the life he had, with or without Yoda's meddling.

He wondered what his life might have been like had he stayed with his parents. He didn't actually know much about them, or Stewjon for that matter. His beginnings had never mattered, he had come to the Temple so young that this had always been his home.

Even his oldest memories, of an older brother playing with him, holding him in his arms as he ran through a field, always brought with them a sense of foreboding, and never longing.

"Obi-Wan!"

Obi-Wan startled as he came 'awake' from possibly one of the deepest meditations he had ever achieved.

He recognized that voice, but he was still surprised to look up, and up, at Master Ali-Alann, his old Creche Master.

Only, he didn't look as old as he had when Obi-Wan had last spoken with him.

Ali-Alann knelt in front of him and, without hesitation, pulled him into an embrace.

Ali-Alann was as large a man as Qui-Gon had been, and his scent and his Force presence were immediately familiar to him. So though the gesture was odd, Obi-Wan hugged him back.

What followed next spooked the kriff out of Obi-Wan.

He was lifted into the air.

He clung to the man's neck, feeling incomprehensibly small.

"You've been missing for hours," Ali-Alann was saying. "You missed curfew and dinner, I was so worried."

Obi-Wan was far too disoriented to respond to that.

Curfew? He didn't have a curfew. And skipping meals was not an oddity for him by a long shot. Also, how was Ali-Alann lifting him so easily?

Obi-Wan loosened his grip on his elder's robes to look at his hands.

His tiny hands.

Panic swirled in him.

"Shhhhh," Ali-Alann hushed, rubbing his back. "You're safe, Obi-Wan. Were you truly meditating that whole time? I thought you were asleep."

Obi-Wan couldn't answer that. He searched his senses outward, searching the Temple with the Force.

It was peaceful.

The Temple was quiet and at ease, and the Force itself…

There was no oppressive darkness.

Well, there was, but not as it had been leading up to the Clone Wars.

They arrived in the creche, where almost all were asleep. It was, as Ali-Alann had implied, far later in the night than when Obi-Wan had started his meditation this afternoon.

Ali-Alann set him down on his feet before the dorm room that had been his until Bandomeer, then knelt in front of him on the stone floor as he had in the Room of a Thousand Fountains. He ran a large hand through Obi-Wan's hair, which was much shorter than it had been.

Obi-Wan caught Ali-Alann's sleeves with his too-small hands. His heart was racing, and he didn't know what to say to his Creche Master that wouldn't sound completely insane.

"Obi-Wan, what's wrong?" Ali-Alann asked, voice filled with a care that had Obi-Wan blinking back tears.

He didn't miss Stewjon, but he did miss this closeness to Master Ali-Alann.

The door behind him opened, and Obi-Wan turned to see a painfully young Quinlann Vos.

Quin looked distraught, pulling him away from Ali-Alann and into a hug. Obi-Wan pulled up his shields, knowing that at this age Quin didn't have the skills to shield himself from his own clairvoyant gifts.

Obi-Wan's gift for shielding had actually been the reason why, despite the age gap between them, they had been roommates.

Quin pulled back, looking down at Obi-Wan with sorrow. "I didn't mean to upset you, Obi-Wan. But the Council said it's time I move in with Master Tholme. We are always going to be friends, though, don't ever doubt it."

Again, Obi-Wan found himself blinking back tears. He remembered this night. He had been eleven and Quin had been a few years into his Padawanship.

Despite Quin's promise, Obi-Wan knew that the next mission Quin went on would be difficult. After that mission, Quin had pulled away, and they hadn't regained their friendship until Obi-Wan entered his late teens.

Obi-Wan embraced him again, knowing that this night had marked the end of Quin's innocence. There was no real way to shield him from it unless he moved to a planet like Alderaan, and even then hardships always seemed to come to those blessed—or, more correctly, cursed—with clairvoyance.

"I'll miss you," Obi-Wan said, the sound of his own voice making him fight the urge to cough.

It was the final bit of proof he needed to realize that this was real, that somehow he was here, decades in the past.

Careful to hold onto his shields, he reached past them, acknowledging Quin was real, and reaching beyond him to ask the Force: Why bring me back?

The Force didn't answer in words, but the warmth he received was like hearing a loved one laugh, like that first rush of falling in love, like a prayer answered.

Obi-Wan clung to Quin, who tugged him inside their room. "Night, Master Ali-Alann, thanks for finding him!"

"We'll talk in the morning, Obi-Wan," Master Ali-Alann said as the door shut.

Quin all but threw him onto one of the beds.

"That was sort of rude," Obi-Wan said as he slipped under the covers.

Quin slipped in beside him. "Shut up. What's rude is running off and not telling anyone where you went."

"I was meditating in the Room of a Thousand Fountains."

Quin paused, then pulled Obi-Wan in tighter. His voice was soft when he said, "I'm sorry, Obi-Wan. You'll be chosen soon, I know it. You and I are always going to be friends."

But not always close.

Obi-Wan hugged Quin's arm, relaxing into his embrace. Into this moment of peace and comfort. Quin relaxed too, resting his cheek on the side of Obi-Wan's head.

Maybe this was just a dream, maybe he really had fallen asleep meditating.

Again, he had the sense that the Force was laughing at him.

Closing his eyes, he fell asleep to the sound of Quin's breathing.

Obi-Wan had every expectation of waking up back by the fountains, to his responsibilities in the Order and within the Clone Wars.

Instead, he woke to Quin softly snoring and drooling into Obi-Wan's shoulder.

He reached out to the Force again and found it alight with joy and mischief.

The Force, it seemed, was indeed with him.

It was probably a bad sign that, among the things that had happened to him over the last few months, this didn't frighten him but made him feel somehow at ease.

Or maybe he just felt that way because there weren't massive amounts of fear and death pouring into the Force from around the galaxy.

Time travel wasn't impossible. Legends of it only stated it was impossible to predict or manufacture. Time, after all, like death, meant very little to the Force. It was as Qui-Gon had taught him when he thought something impossible or improbable: You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

Obi-Wan stayed in bed, in the circle of his friend's arms, glorying in the reprieve this morning offered.


AN: Thoughts, feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

Thank you, Sectumus Prince!

Chapter 2 - The Dominoes Fall

Obi-Wan had an uneventful morning, if one discounted the time travel. Adjusting to his eleven-year-old body wasn't so hard; at least, not for normal activities. He was small for his age. He had hit his growth spurt late, but luckily this meant he would have time to adjust before having to deal with his 'Oafy-Wan' state. He didn't go to the dojos to see how badly he needed to relearn the extensive muscle memory he had once had.

Quin watched him carefully through their routine, but Obi-Wan gave no sign of being upset.

Because he wasn't, not with the Force a pleasant hum in his ear, which he chose to interpret as this meaning this was his life now.

There would be no going back—forward. He would have to age normally to see the people he cared so much for.

Obi-Wan merely had to decipher why now? Why this time period? What could he do as an eleven-year-old?

Fortunately for him, today was an off day, so he had no classes to attend.

"Obi-Wan, what are you going to do today?" Quin asked, fiddling with his napkin on his empty plate.

Obi-Wan shrugged. "Archives, I guess?"

"You are the most boring kid," Quin lamented. Then, quieter, he said, "You're going to need to make new friends."

Ah yes, Obi-Wan remembered. He and Quin had been inseparable despite how different they both were. It was only after Quin moved out that he had grown close with Bant and the others. Sure, they were friendly in classes, but they weren't close enough that any but Quin and Master Ali-Alaan had noted his absence last night.

"I'll be okay, Quin. It's you I'm worried about. You have to promise to be careful."

Quin smirked, flicking his dreads over his shoulder. "I'll be fine."

Master Tholme approached their table. "Are you ready to go, Padawan?"

"Yes, Master," Quin said, reaching down to grab his pack he had brought with him.

"I'll take your tray," Obi-Wan volunteered. "May the Force be with you, Quin, Master Tholme."

Master Tholme inclined his head toward Obi-Wan, and Quin grinned. "You too, dork, cause some trouble, would you? Maybe set some holos on fire?"

"Quin," Master Tholme warned.

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes.

Quin grinned, unrepentant, waved, and then they were off.

Obi-Wan let out a breath, glad to know he wouldn't have any other friends in this year to lie to. He brought the trays to the kitchen droids before going to the archives.

He was passing through the halls when the Force warned him to stop.

Ducking behind a pillar, Obi-Wan waited, looking for what the Force was trying to tell him. He brought his shields up, slipping into the Force, his Force signature matching that of the pillar and the Temple he pressed himself against.

"Master," Mace's familiar voice said, "when are you going to ask him? From what I understand, Initiate Kenobi's only close friend is Padawan Quinlan Vos. Sooner would be better, as we believe a number of the Initiates in his year are likely to choose the Corps service. It would be a waste if he joined them."

"Time, it is not," Yoda said.

"Plo Koon and Sifo-Dyas have asked about him. Even my Billaba has shown interest," Mace said. "It's cruel to make him wait."

Obi-Wan closed his eyes, it was one thing to be told, it was another to hear it.

He sent a silent thank you to the Force.


Master Mace Windu felt a flicker in the Force, but he didn't turn toward it. "Please, Master Yoda, I think you should reconsider. Unless it is your choice to step down from the Council, I do not believe you are the best choice for the boy."

"Know this, you do?" Yoda said with censure.

"It is my opinion. I've spoken with Dooku about this. Both of us became Masters, but neither of us were as gentle a spirit as Kenobi appears to be. I do not believe many children are well-suited to have such a distant Master."

"Distant, I am not," Yoda said in a sharp tone.

"Your duties spread you thin, and though you are no weaker, and certainly no less wise, you are not growing younger."

"Discuss this, we shall not," Yoda said, zooming away on his hover chair.

Mace continued walking, but stopped as he stepped around the corner. He waited half a minute before looking back around the corner.

Initiate Obi-Wan Kenobi stood beside a pillar looking off into the distance.

Mace's breath was taken from him as he saw how sad the boy looked. Kenobi shook his head then continued on his way.

How much had he heard? And why had he looked so sad? Had he interpreted their words to mean Yoda didn't want him to be a Padawan?

Worry gnawing on him, Mace vowed to speak to the boy himself soon. He would give Yoda time to cool off, in the hopes his old Master would reconsider after he had some time to meditate on the matter.


Obi-Wan found himself researching the Mandalore system.

Galidraan was years from happening, and Mandalore proper still had fertile land. Obi-Wan's heart ached for them. He looked for things he could do to help. Perhaps something to help the Jedi from fumbling Galidraan so terribly.

Unfortunately, Mandalore's history wasn't exactly easy to work through, the clans were too numerous to understand, beyond the True Mandalorians, whom Satine's father and Jango Fett had been members of, and Death Watch, Vizla's terrorists.

The True Mandalorians weren't half bad, but unlike Clone Troopers, they weren't well-organized and there were too many individuals constantly breaking from the greater goal of unification to satisfy blood debts or simply pick fights with the wrong people.

When the information was beginning to give him a headache, he switched to freshening up on the language. Stewjon, as it turned out, spoke the same dialect that he had learned on Mandalore and that his troopers used.

His afternoon passed with flashcards, and when that grew tiresome, he switched to watching a holo-drama that he knew Cody, Waxer, and Boil would have adored.

"Mandalorians would gut you and skin you alive, little youngling," a malignant voice whispered in his ear.

Obi-Wan jumped out of his seat, spinning on the boy who smirked down at him with malice.

Xanatos.

Obi-Wan's heart galloped and he reached for a saber he didn't have.

He was a few months away from making his own.

Xanatos chuckled at Obi-Wan's aborted motion.

"What do you want?" Obi-Wan demanded, telling himself that Xanatos hadn't fallen yet, he didn't need to be afraid of this boy.

But Xanatos had snuck up on him, and he knew the boy wasn't safe.

"I was just researching a mission of mine," Xanatos said, his smile was nasty. "What were you doing, youngling, dreaming of adventures?"

How had Qui-Gon missed this side of the boy? Xanatos had only been silver-tongued when he wanted something. To anyone lesser, he was a bully.

Obi-Wan had never met Xanatos before he left the Order, but Quin had told him stories.

Xanatos took another step toward him and Obi-Wan felt frightfully small. He reached for the Force and gasped at the darkness he felt spilling from the boy. Xanatos's shields meant nothing to Obi-Wan, the darkness was clear. That Force swirled oddly around them, it was telling Obi-Wan to be afraid.

To be very afraid.

Obi-Wan felt sick. He hadn't let himself be this open with the Force for years, and in the body of a child with the skills of a Master, the Force seemed so incredibly present.

Obi-Wan continued to retreat, his fear mounting with every backward step. Xanatos followed him as if he was a predatory animal intent on playing with the food he hunted.


Master Qui-Gon Jinn was approaching the archives when he felt a disturbance in the Force.

He had been planning on assisting Xanatos. Even with his Padawan so close to being knighted, Qui-Gon had found that it was best to always double-check Xanatos's research. This mission, in particular, was a test for his apprentice. The Council had disagreed with Qui-Gon that Xanatos was ready for knighting, and Yoda had assigned them to a crisis that sprang from Xanatos's homeworld. Qui-Gon was cautious, but not overly concerned.

However, as a wave of fear hit him from the Force, he found himself running.

A small being turned a corner from one of the study alcoves. Qui-Gon knelt, opening his arms to the child whose fear rang like a bell in the Force.

The boy was so scared he was running blind.

Qui-Gon let out a soft grunt as he caught the boy. Something in the Force resonated within him, like this boy wasn't only special, but special to him.

The Living Force was entwined around them. The boy, a nine-year-old human, perhaps a bit older, buried his face against his chest. Qui-Gon let the child curl against his robes as he reached for his saber. He didn't ignite it, but he held out at the ready, sending reassurance to the boy through the Force.

The boy stilled, his body tensed, but as Qui-Gon's thoughts brushed against the boy's shields, which were far more substantial than any he'd ever encountered in a child, the shields softened at his touch, opening a crack, as if welcoming an old friend.

That reaction was startling in its depth. However, Qui-Gon was distracted by the child's pursuer rounding the corner.

His own Padawan with a truly ugly expression on his face until it changed in milliseconds upon seeing Qui-Gon kneeling, guarding the child.

It was a pretty recovery, but Qui-Gon wasn't fooled by the false worry on his Padawan's handsome face.

Qui-Gon threw his own senses out wide, allowing all his shields to drop, every barrier down, including the ones between him and his Padawan that provided them both privacy.

Xanatos could not hide behind his pleasantries, and he saw what Mace and his brother-apprentice, Rael Averross, had been trying to tell him for years.

Xanatos was not worthy of becoming a Knight. There was too much darkness, too much pride, and too much desire to triumph over others.

Qui-Gon slammed his shields down with such force that he felt the Padawan-Master bond break on impact.

It hurt.

But it was necessary.

The boy in his arms whimpered.

Xanatos staggered, and with a tug on the Force, his saber came to Qui-Gon's hand before Xanatos could make a grab for it.

Master Jocasta Nu emerged from deep in the archives, her own lightsaber in hand. A moment later, two of the Temple Guard entered from the main doors, drawn, no doubt, by the extreme emotions. Fighting or sparring of any kind were forbidden in the archives.

"Master, please," Xanatos began, realizing how much trouble he was in. "I was just—"

"Silence," Qui-Gon commanded, more angry with himself than Xanatos for being so blind to this.

No, not blind. He had known Xanatos's faults and made exception after exception for him. But tormenting an initiate, a youngling? No, Qui-Gon could not stomach it nor abide it. This was the last straw.

The boy in his arms was trembling. He hooked the sabers on his belt, being sure to extend his shield to the weapons to ensure Xanatos didn't attempt anything rash by taking them back.

"It's all right, little one," Qui-Gon reassured, rubbing the boy's back. "We aren't going to let anyone hurt you." He gave a meaningful look to the Temple Guards who bracketed Xanatos.

"Master," Xanatos pleaded, more desperate still. "I didn't do anything! I swear it! I swear on the Force, on my life, I did nothing!"

"Enough," Qui-Gon said shortly, annoyed at Xanatos's last statement, valuing himself more than the Force. "Guard, I trust him to your care until the Council can weigh in on the matter."

"I didn't do an—"

"Quiet," Jocasta snapped. "Disturbing the peace of these archives is reason enough for a Council hearing."

With that, the Guard directed Xanatos out.

The boy pulled back from Qui-Gon, still clearly shaken, but he peeked up at Qui-Gon before stealing a glance at the retreating Guard, his eyes widening at the sight.

The Temple Guard rarely made themselves known, though they were more present than any youngling understood. In fact, if one was looking for the Temple Guard, they tended to congregate around the younglings, initiates, and Padawans.

The training that all young Jedi received created a temptation to try their skills in the real world. Many attempted to explore the surrounding city.

But the city was far from safe, and very foolish sentient trackers wouldn't pass up an opportunity to snatch an errant youngling.

The boy swallowed hard, before saying bravely, "Master Jinn, he didn't do anything to me. He's not lying."

Qui-Gon softened his shields, reaching out to the child again, whose shoulders eased at the gesture, his fear melting away. "You seem to know my name, but what is yours, young Initiate?"

Blue-grey eyes blinked up at him before he said, accent completely Coursanti, telling Qui-Gon he had arrived at the Temple younger than most, "Initiate Obi-Wan Kenobi, Master."

Qui-Gon Jinn smiled softly. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Obi-Wan. But you don't need to cover for anyone. No one can help if they don't know of problems when they occur."

Obi-Wan shook his head a bit stubbornly. "He didn't, though. I just… He felt wrong in the Force and it scared me."

Qui-Gon felt earnestness in those words, and it stung a little that someone young could pick up on what he hadn't for years. "Yes, he's my Padawan, I'm afraid. It is a lesson that the people we love and care for aren't always equipped to handle the challenges the galaxy has to offer them."

A determined look came over Obi-Wan's face, and he placed a hand over Qui-Gon's heart. "It's not your fault. Unless he's stupid, he knows better than to surrender to greed and malice. He isn't a kid."

Qui-Gon's chest gave another sharp twinge. He was still hurting from cutting the bond between him and Xanatos. Still, this child's simple wisdom, so freely given, was truly humbling. Obi-Wan sparkled like the brightest star in the sky, and with the Living Force dancing about them, Qui-Gon let himself take those words to heart.

Xanatos's actions and choices were his own, and Qui-Gon had tried his best to give him a chance to fulfill his dream of becoming a Jedi Knight.

The Force gave such a surge of approval that Qui-Gon nearly staggered.

He shook his head. The Force was so rarely this explicit; or, perhaps, even a Master of the Living Force needed to be a bit more attentive to hear what was being said.

Another surge almost made him laugh as the Force approved of his thoughts.

Humbling, indeed.

Qui-Gon brushed his fingers over the boy's cheek. "I thank you, Initiate Kenobi, for your wisdom."

Obi-Wan blinked at him, as if shocked by that response.

Qui-Gon chuckled. "We all have much to learn, and sometimes the greatest wisdom can be imparted by our young." He stood, holding his hand out to the child. "Come, let me escort you to dinner."

Obi-Wan hesitated only for half a moment before taking his hand. The Force sang through him.

Qui-Gon couldn't deny that he was comforted by Obi-Wan, the pain in his heart eased by the connection he felt with the youngling who asked for nothing but offered much.


Mace watched the videos on repeat with the rest of the Council, Qui-Gon and Jocasta Nu. They were all feeling grateful that nothing tragic had happened.

It was regrettable that there were no easy options.

Xanatos had contacted his birth father, and his father had convinced him to betray the Order. They had faked a tragedy and planned on using Qui-Gon to eliminate their political enemies, who were rebelling against the greed and tyranny of Xanatos's father.

It was a crime, even as a conspiracy, that was punishable by death. There were no easy options for such a powerful Force sensitive flirting with the Dark Side, but the boy's final fate would be decided without Qui-Gon. That was what he was tasked to come to terms with.

"What is he afraid of?" Billaba asked as they rewatched the video of Xanatos's interaction with young Obi-Wan.

"He said he sensed the Darkness inside of Xanatos," Qui-Gon said with not nearly the amount of self-loathing Mace had been anticipating.

"Sensitive to the Force, he is," Yoda said, sounding pleased.

Mace held back a sigh and asked, "What was he studying? He missed second meal."

Jocasta Nu said, "Mandalore, its history, its languages, and I think he has a knack for the latter, because he was practicing flashcards that demonstrated an advanced vocabulary."

"Those weren't flashcards in the recording," Ki-Adi Mundi noted skeptically.

No one asked why Obi-Wan was studying Mandalore. Not only had the system been in the news often, but the stories of Mandalorians often sparked curiosity.

"He was watching a Mandalorian holo-drama," Jocasta Nu said. "In the original language, without subtitles." She sounded pleased. Obi-Wan, apparently, was one of her favourites because he often came to her for further material on the subjects he learned in class. All of Obi-Wan's teachers believed he was a born ambassador.

He was hard-working and had an endless curiosity about other cultures, including their own. Obi-Wan had been one of the youngest Padawans to grasp the Code and the fundamentals of their own philosophies about the Cosmic Force. It wasn't challenging to understand why so many Masters—Yoda, in particular—wanted to train him.

"I think this is enough for tonight," Mace said. "His fate shall be decided tomorrow."

"I'm sorry," Qui-Gon said.

Mace put a hand on his shoulder. "Not everything is under our control, and none of us know what the future holds."

Qui-Gon sighed, dragging his hand down his face.

Billaba offered, "You should speak with Feemor, he's back between missions."

Feemor was a Seeker, he was away from the temple more often than not, and his next mission would take him to the Mandalorian sector, where he would have to be undercover for months.

Though Mandalorians would deny it, sometimes Force-sensitive children came to harm.

In the more agriculturally-dependent plants and moons, villagers would sometimes kill those children. In the more urban areas, well, there were enough bounty hunters that some of those children disappeared on the black market.

Unfortunately, with the rise of groups like Death Watch, those kidnappings became more common in recent decades. Naturally, on Mandalore, something like a kidnapped child was an immediate blood feud.

No Mandalorian would ever admit that some of the most intense Clan wars began over Force-sensitive children. The Jedi Order had made it an unofficial policy to offer refuge to those children. It meant worse relations with the hostile groups, but it was sometimes better for Mandalore to be at odds with the Republic than destroy themselves in endless civil wars.

Qui-Gon nodded. "I will."


Obi-Wan had his answer to why he was back in this time, and found himself more than a little amused that the Force would use his inherent cuteness as a youngling against Qui-Gon like that.

However, Qui-Gon seemed less distraught by Xanatos's betrayal, despite how the entire experience seemed to have been traumatizing. Obi-Wan had even seen him hanging out with a blond knight: a Jedi Seeker named Feemor, who Obi-Wan learned was Qui-Gon's first apprentice. Apparently, Feemor's first Master had died in the line of duty, so Qui-Gon had seen him through to Knighthood. Obi-Wan found it odd that he never heard of him, but Seekers didn't actually stay at the Temple much.

Obi-Wan was glad that Qui-Gon had a support system this time. He had even spotted Dooku and Rael Aveross over the next two weeks.

During that time, Obi-Wan buried himself in his studies. His topics of research? Mandalore, the Trade Federation, the Senate, and Naboo.

Senator Palpatine had lost his entire family in a tragic accident almost twenty years early, and the Trade Federation had gained a seat in the Senate, speaking toward the corruption of the Republic.

Kamino, funnily enough, could be found in the archives, and with a bit of tinkering with some systems and some droids he had listed the help of, information was consistently updated on different servers.

Whoever tried erasing Kamino from their records would have some issues this time around. If the droids were attentive, Obi-Wan might even have early warning if someone in the Republic was funnelling money to the cloners.

Time seemed to move quickly, and he was sure Master Ali-Alann was worried about him because he had been pulling back from his crechemates.

Someone swatted Obi-Wan's head, or they tried to. After Xanatos had snuck up on him, Obi-Wan had been more than a little twitchy, so he dropped low, sticking his leg out as he spun toward his attacker.

The result?

Bruck Chun ended up falling as Obi-Wan swept his feet out from underneath him.

Obi-Wan flushed a bit of his over reaction. "Sorry!" he babbled, darting away.

"Coward!" Bruck called after him.

Such a comment didn't get a rise out of him. Obi-Wan was too small for his advanced knowledge of katas and Mastery of Soresu to help him. But he was the best in the class at self-correction and had more focus than any of his classmates, his failures never discouraging him.

It had been noticeable enough that Bruck and Siri Tachi had become resentful toward him. His constant studying put him at odds with Bant and Garen, who at this age played more than Obi-Wan was willing to.

Not wanting to deal with the initiates, Obi-Wan headed toward the Master quarters, thinking he might check in on Qui-Gon.

However, before he reached Qui-Gon's, he saw Master Tholme.

Brightening, Obi-Wan quickened his step and called, "Master Tholme! You're back."

Master Tholme turned to him with wary eyes.

Worry seized Obi-Wan's heart. "Is Quin okay?"

Master Tholme hesitated.

"Is he with the healers?" Obi-Wan pressed.

The Master sighed. "No, young Kenobi, Quinlan is fine; physically, at any rate."

"Can I see him?"

Tholme looked at him for a long moment before nodding, indicating the rooms he had just exited.

Without further preamble, Obi-Wan entered the suit, going directly to the room he knew was Quin's.

Last time, Obi-Wan had respected Quin's privacy. This time, however, he needed a friend as much as Quin did.

Obi-Wan knocked on the door before hitting the open switch.

Quin was rubbing away tears. "Master—Obi-Wan?"

Obi-Wan ran toward him, touching Quin's knee where he had them folded on the bed. "Quin? How bad was it?"

Quin looked at him, his eyes still wet, tear tracks still cutting across the golden band that crossed over his cheeks and nose.

Obi-Wan reached up to Quin's cheek and offered the only comfort he could offer, "You're not alone."

Quin snagged Obi-Wan into a hug, and Obi-Wan held him as he dissolved into sobs.

Quin never shared what had happened, but Obi-Wan didn't need to know to stay with him. Quin cried himself to sleep and Obi-Wan helped get the larger boy under the covers.

When morning came, Obi-Wan snuck out early, and because he had woken before Master Tholme, he went down to the kitchens for three trays, bringing them back to the suite just like he had for Qui-Gon so many years again.

Master Tholme woke as Obi-Wan was finishing steeping the tea. He offered him a small smile. "Thank you, initiate, you will make a Master proud one day."

Obi-Wan beamed, and beamed brighter still as Quin emerged out of his room, muttering to himself about the brightness of the sunny apartment.

"Initiate Kenobi satisfied your morning duties, Padawan Vos," Tholme teased gently.

Quin raised his gaze to see the breakfast Obi-Wan brought and the steaming tea. He scowled at Obi-Wan. "Show off."

Obi-Wan smiled at him innocently. "I was just trying to be helpful."

"Bantha shit. You're just trying to move in," Quin accused.

"Quinlan!" Tholme warned.

But Obi-Wan laughed, grateful for this time the Force avoided him before the galaxy drowned in Darkness.


AN: Thoughts? Wanted events? Feedback? Pretty please?

Chapter Text

Cavity warning but it does starting getting a bit darker from here. Thank you Sectumus Prince!

Chapter 3 - Sleepless Knights

Mace Windu found Initiate Obi-Wan Kenobi meditating on the side of the Temple at sunrise. The sun had harkened its arrival by setting the clouds on fire, the blue of the sky dyed in deep pinks and purples.

It was one of Mace's favourite spots if Council meetings didn't drag into the night.

As he approached on silent feet, Mace wondered if he should disturb the child, his energy was remarkably serene. He was a child, so the lack of lines on his face weren't abnormal, yet Mace felt envious.

He had always struggled for calm, to be still was a fight, or at least it had been. He was aware, and never truly sought to dispel the notion assumed by almost all that he was apathetic, unfeeling and as immovable as stone.

But the steadiness they saw was his discipline, balancing the scales by pressing into both the Light and the Dark. It was a dangerous line to walk, but one that had always felt right to him. Only with both could he hear the will of the Force, the warnings and the encouragements.

"Good morning, Master Windu."

Mace startled, covering his scuffed step by folding into a seated position by the Initiate. Obi-Wan had opened his eyes, not to look at Mace, but to look at the sun breaking the horizon, the light sparkling against thousands of crafts, millions of windows; the beauty of Coruscant, a planet dense with life, rich in the Force both good and ill, a nexus at the core of the galaxy.

The darkness was abound here, a poison that sought to rot the surrounding systems, to snuff out the light.

The Jedi had congregated here, not because it was their place of power, not where they were at their best, but as guardians of a trust.

They were peacekeepers, they were meant to push back against the cycles of suffering that built and built until hope was annihilated and left those who remained to rebuild on those broken dreams. The Jedi were on Coruscant to even out the Dark here, to be a check on the Republic, as all bodies of government were entwined with temptation.

Sometimes, Mace worried they had grown too complacent, that they weren't doing enough. As speaker of the Council, it had begun to feel more and more like the voices of the other Councillors had drowned out his own opinions.

He feared that it was the very reason Yoda had assigned him the position.

Mace felt eyes on him and he turned to meet the blue-grey gaze of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who looked decades older than he had moments ago.

Mace held his gaze, wondering what the boy wanted to say, then he realized what he had neglected to say. "My apologies, Obi-Wan, my thoughts are unordered at the moment. Good morning."

Obi-Wan offered him a kind smile and said only, "It is earlier."

Mace waited, but Obi-Wan didn't push, nor had he indicated in any way that he wanted to alone.

The boy was at peace, and it was more than what most Masters could accomplish. Obi-Wan watched the world with eyes open, but he was still within a meditation, letting the world pass around him with acknowledgement but no need of satisfaction. Meditation was not entertainment nor was it inaction. To sit with one's thoughts was challenging, even if often left to physical rest.

Open-eyed meditation was often considered more difficult, especially for humans, who were better at filtering sound and physical twinges rather than to be undistracted by what passed through their field of vision.

Mace folded his hands, closing his eyes to join Obi-Wan. He reached out with the Force, not demanding, not intrusive, but just their Force signatures brushing past each other like a flutter of silk.

Obi-Wan's shields were impressive, far beyond what Yoda had implied when he mentioned the boy's gift for it. However, the shields remained on his thoughts and his memories, not himself. For a moment later, Mace found himself tugged along the same tide as Obi-Wan.

When meditating with Initiates, group meditation was often a redirect. Younglings tended to be better at it, actually, though extreme peace was often punctuated minutes later by other extreme emotions.

But meditating with Obi-Wan was like meditating with Plo Koon, like being carried far out to sea, deep below the waves where the world was vast and you were connected to everything. Suspended, weightless, even as the water pressed down around you.

The Force welcomed him, and Mace's breath caught as he heard the Force singing. The Cosmic Force in harmony with the Living Force, neither Dark nor Light, just the Force.

Mace didn't know how long he sat there in that place of solace and starlight, Obi-Wan a silver gleam beside him. But when he came up for air, remembering that he probably had places he needed to be, he found the sun had dipped past noon.

Kriff, he had missed the morning meeting. He checked his pocket for his com and found none. Right, he was only supposed to be away for an hour or so.

Oh, well. He figured someone would have found him by now if there was something that couldn't wait.

Mace glanced at Obi-Wan, who hadn't moved.

He had a meeting with the Chancellor later this afternoon. However…

Mace reached out with the Force, brushing against Obi-Wan's consciousness.

Obi-Wan blinked 'awake' and Mace smiled down at him, unable to hide his joy that another in the Order had found such a connection to the Force.

Obi-Wan grinned up at him, unlike most Initiates and Padawans, completely unafraid of him.

Something tight loosened in Mace's gut. Intimidation was a useful tool in his arsenal as a Council Member tasked with holding the line between the Order, his family, and the dangers of the Senate and the galaxy, but he had never enjoyed the fear he inspired in his own kin.

Mace stood, offering a hand up, which Obi-Wan took without hesitation, though he swayed a bit; his legs were likely asleep.

Mace swallowed a chuckle as Obi-Wan clung to his hand. He didn't mock the child. "Come, I presume you've missed two meals already today."

Obi-Wan's cheeks flushed as he took deliberate steps, Mace unwilling to surrender his hand until they reached a wider walkway.

Meditating for that many hours was a punishment in some societies, sometimes even one in theirs for the young. But Obi-Wan was a rare youth who could lose himself in it. Most children his age could only last an hour or two before needing to adjust or answer their growing bodies.

It actually worried Mace a bit that Obi-Wan didn't go looking for food, or even seemed enthused by the prospect.

Mace hesitated.

He had places he needed to be, but he made a snap decision as Obi-Wan bowed to him on top of the steps with a quiet, "Thank you, Master Windu. May the Force be with you." Then Obi-Wan turned toward the Temple interior, his expression losing some of its shine.

"You were not dismissed, Initiate Kenobi."

He used his firm 'You're in deep banthashit' voice.

But far from being afraid, Obi-Wan turned back to face him, hands tucking in his sleeves, one fine brow arched primly.

Again, Mace found it difficult not to laugh. Force, when was the last time he'd felt this buoyant?

Mace tugged on his old bond with Depa and told her, Tell the rest of the Council I'm taking a personal day.

Amusement flowed back down that golden thread and Depa whispered in his mind, Do tell Obi-Wan I say hello.

Maybe, he thought back at her.

He heard her laugh before gently reclosing the barrier between their minds.

Yoda disapproved of how close they remained. Personally, Mace thought they had both sacrificed enough for the Order, and that Yoda himself was no less entangled in Dooku and Qui-Gon's lives.

Mace motioned Obi-Wan toward him as he turned to go down to the steps. He saw the boy's eyes go wide, and soon he was almost running to catch up with him.

Mace waited for the question to come. For 'Where are we going?' to be asked by the bubbling youth. But no questions came. Obi-Wan seemed curious, but content to see for himself, which was refreshing. Though when Mace called for a taxi to take them to the lower levels, he received an inquiring look.

Mace said, "Not everyone below the surface is a criminal."

Obi-Wan nodded.

Mace instructed the droid to take them to one of his favorite diners. Obi-Wan turned, craning his head as they entered the packed establishment.

Mace smiled, then ordered the special and two shakes before directing Obi-Wan into a booth. Mace slid in after him, partially obscuring the youngling from easy view and ensuring that if there was trouble, Mace would be the one to handle it.

"How have you been, Obi-Wan?"

Obi-Wan smiled. "Well, thank you. And you, Master Windu?"

Mace inclined his head and was more candid than he might have been to see how the boy would respond. Whether Obi-Wan would appease him, question him, or complain. "Well enough. The Senate is always a nightmare, but the Order continues on."

Obi-Wan grimaced. "The Senate worries me."

"How so?" Mace asked casually, expecting a rant about how awful and distrustful politicians were—a sentiment he wholeheartedly agreed with.

That, however, is not what he got.

"I think the Republic is unprepared for a crisis, and as it continues to fail people on the outer reaches, it's all going to fall apart. The Jedi, even with the corps, aren't enough to put the pieces back together."

Mace raised both brows. "How do you mean?"

"We can't keep everyone safe on Coruscant, much less the rest of the galaxy," Obi-Wan said with unexpected heat.

The waiter came and delivered their drinks, Obi-Wan thanked both Mace and the waitress, a lanky zabrak with ebony hair, who flashed Obi-Wan a smile before hurrying over to another table.

"We are neither the police nor the governors of Coruscant," Mace pointed out.

Obi-Wan shook his head. "But Coruscant is our home and the wealthy benefit too directly from the inequality here. Most of the Senators are so comfortable they rarely go back home to hear the needs of their people. They speak for their own interests, not the peoples they represent."

"So what do you suggest?" Mace said.

Something gleamed in Obi-Wan's eyes and Mace caught a stray thought: Will he actually listen to me? Does he really want to know what I think?

Mace stilled, concern growing in him. Yes, Obi-Wan was young, but had the High Council been removed so far from the rest of the Order that their own people didn't feel they could speak their minds?

The Order, more than the Republic, was representative. Within their walls, discussion was meant to happen. The High Council was meant to be approachable. Questions and limits were meant to be pressed. They were supposed to be ever-improving.

If their younglings felt they couldn't discuss subjects without censure, that was an indication that they, as a culture, were stagnating. Or worse, decaying.

But hadn't Mace already known that as the Force grew darker and darker, not light and shadow, but meddled so the lines between the two were blurred, any direction was unclear.

"I think," Obi-Wan began, "that the Republic already treats us like attack dogs, sending us in to be muscle, not ambassadors, into situations that are too far gone for us to aid. Especially when the cause is unchecked greed the Senators, in majority, have no interest in correcting. If they are going to treat us that way, then we might as well actually take control of what they will ultimately blame us for anyway rather than assume any accountability themselves."

Mace knew exactly what Obi-Wan meant, but he wanted to know if the boy understood as much as he seemed to. Many outside the Order would assume such a high level of thinking was genius, when in reality answers to most political issues were simple pragmatism. Something children were actually very good at.

What was difficult was finding children who were pragmatic in nature and could at the same time fathom the corruption of the world.

That Obi-Wan was discussing these issues told Mace the boy had been exposed to some level of horrors in his short life. Because Mace had been reading Obi-Wan's records, had seen him grow, he worried that Obi-Wan had been experiencing Force visions and not reporting them.

Given how long Obi-Wan was able to meditate, Mace wouldn't be surprised if that was indeed the case.

"By which you mean?" he prompted.

"I mean we should have a Defense Corps. We should start with Coruscant. We don't need Jedi to police the city and lower levels, but Jedi supervision would almost guarantee less corruption. It would also allow us to follow the Senate with eyes open. If there are gambling debts or traffickers, we would be the first to know."

That was actually a splendid idea. It would be a miracle if the Senate allowed it, but having a police force separate from the lawmakers was more ideal. The Jedi had thousands of years of doing just that; they were, after all, the original and makers of the Republic. Keeping people safe and enforcing laws on Coruscant was precisely what they wanted to be.

"We should also be in charge of the Republic Army."

That startled Mace. "Why?"

"If the galaxy went into civil war, it would be a nightmare. And, again, the Jedi don't have the numbers to fight or stop a war that large scale."

"Civil War?" Mace repeated.

Obi-Wan nodded solemnly and the waiter came back around with their trays. He didn't even ask what it was before digging in, clearly hungrier than he had let on. His shake was already finished.

He finished a fried slice before continuing, "If the Outer Rim sides against us, it would be a nightmare. Their populations are smaller, but they do have armies, especially if they were backed by the Hutts, the Trade Federation, or even the Zygerrian Empire."

"Zygerrians?" Mace asked, deciding he needed to look into what Obi-Wan had been studying under Jocasta's supervision.

Obi-Wan ate another slice before saying, "Yes, the Zygerrians. Their empire is growing and they have been hunting Jedi and Force sensitives."

"How do you know that?" Mace asked.

"You know the Hutt slave markets are digital."

"They aren't open access," Mace said.

Obi-Wan blinked hard, as if stopping himself from rolling his eyes.

Mace narrowed his.

But Obi-Wan's tone was unoffensive as he said, "You just have to go to the public network offered in range of the Senate building. The corruption of the Senate is hardly an open secret."

Mace gritted his teeth, and focused on his own food to distract himself from his own anger with their so-called democracy.

"Your solutions are fine and reasonable, Obi-Wan, but nothing is simple."

"That doesn't mean we can give up fighting for it," the initiate argued. "Because it can always get worse."

Mace sat back, stunned at not just the vast topics brought up, but the depth. The fundamental understanding of the Senate.

"Wise, Obi-Wan, very wise."


On one hand, Obi-Wan was very likely giving away more than he wished to, but on the other hand, Mace always assumed people were smarter than they showed.

But he did wonder how much Mace would even listen to him. Obi-Wan could only hope that his friend, twenty years younger, would take his words to heart. There was something in the Force, some urgency that had driven him to keep speaking.

As if he were running out of time.

Once he and Mace had finished eating, they switched to talking about the different forms of Lightsaber wielding.

"Soresu is a lot of work," Mace said as they entered the Temple. He had taken them through the ground entrance.

Was Obi-Wan aware that Mace was shirking his duties for the day to spend time with him?

Absolutely.

Was he amused?

Assuredly.

He was only saddened that Mace didn't know how deep their friendship had been.

In answer to Mace's remark, he shrugged. "Aren't they all?"

Mace smirked. "Come, little wise one. Let's see if you're so cavalier after a few hours of practice."

Obi-Wan smiled impishly. "It would be an honour, Master Windu."

Mace led them to one of the training dojos reserved for the senior-level Masters.

Obi-Wan felt more at ease than he should. When Qui-Gon was his Master, these dojos were the ones they used. Partially because Qui-Gon's instructions were something the other Knights would have been judgemental toward. The other higher-ranked Masters knew to pick their battles with Qui-Gon.

Obi-Wan settled lightly on the balls of his feet as Mace stood before him, purple saber ignited.

Obi-Wan refrained from taunting Mace like he normally did for the spars between him and, well, between him and anyone.

Soresu was known as the form that could never lose; not necessarily win, but never lose. Mace had teased him for being Master of such a classical style when his own Master had been the Maverick.

Except Obi-Wan was no longer a Master. He didn't have the muscle memory he had built up over years, practicing tirelessly with Anakin. Tiring Anakin Skywalker out was an accomplishment, to put it mildly. Obi-Wan also had time to master his form from long sleepless nights, when visions would drive him to the brink of madness, when all his guilts and fears tormented him.

Mace gave no warning, but he moved slower than Obi-Wan was used to. Which worked out, because Obi-Wan's steps no longer covered the same distance they should have.

Mace wasn't using Vaapad. He was using a modified version of the fourth form, Ataru, that was the basis to both branches of Form VII.

Obi-Wan appreciated the pace as he strained his muscles to accommodate the correct moves and move fast enough to keep up with his larger opponent.

The training saber in Obi-Wan's hand was old, the crystal inside mournful. Yet it was being silly in its distraction, until, however, it seemed to realize Obi-Wan could hear it, because it began trying to press upon him its memories.

He saw flashes, and he knew this blade was older than Mace had realized, because he saw flashes of red. Sweat slid down Obi-Wan's back as he felt the fear of the original owner. Pain that the owner had tried to shove into the kyber.

Obi-Wan yelped, dropping the blade. It clattered to the ground, extinguishing, but still it cried out to him. Intent on being heard, to tell its—

"NO!" Obi-Wan yelled, stepping back so fast he tripped over his own feet, landing hard on his rear.

He crab-walked backward, trying to get away from the image and pain that screeched against his shields.

But Obi-Wan had instinctively tried to find a balance with the thing, and in doing so, opened up a link between them.

He felt his partner, his light, his chosen one, pour sorrow and pain into him, trying to inflict eternal misery on him. Trying to change him, to bleed him.

The betrayal ran deep, the life he had chosen, the faith he had placed in this life Force—betrayed.

Betrayed.

Betrayed!

He fought back, turning back on his partner, all that was poured into him, he poured back into his chosen.

He would not be broken so easily, he would not bleed.

His chosen dropped him, the bond between them wavering.

Would his partner beg for forgiveness? He felt the chosen's impatience as it was scooped up and placed back in its armour.

But there was no regret, just determination. His soul broke as he felt his chosen's intent to continue trying to bleed him.

When next his partner used him to fell a brother, the kyber chose to cut the bond, changing his song to put its mechanics off balance, extinguishing the blade.

He felt his brother cut the light of his chosen.

Obi-Wan let out a scream that ended in a sob, hugging his head as he collapsed in on himself.

His visions were always this stupid, this useless. Nothing as finite as the futures Master Sifo-Dyas was said to have, nothing as concrete as the shatterpoints Mace saw, nor anything as useful as Quinlan's touch clairvoyance.

Just random memories of unpredictable intenses.

Sometimes he saw Anakin, yellow-eyed, surrounded by lava, burning alive, Obi-Wan helpless to save him. Sometimes he saw Anakin leaving him with a smile, dressed in finery, two children in his arms. Sometimes Obi-Wan saw himself drowning. Saw himself fall, hitting the water so hard that he almost let himself drown. He saw a woman hissing at him, he saw a Mandalorian running with him in his arms.

Obi-Wan saw all these flashes of things that he couldn't place, phantom memories, glimpses of the future too small to interrupt.

And then there were instances like this, where if he let himself feel another's pain too deeply, he was stuck in a loop of reliving their worst memory. Every time, the visions left him strung out, dragging on every extreme emotion he had until it was no longer his, until he was just a vessel for another's pain.

He had never been able to explain it to Qui-Gon when he was young. Obi-Wan couldn't explain what the Living Force did to him.

Within the Cosmic Force, Obi-Wan could distract himself, his 'sensitivity' which he could extend so he felt no one person or thing too strongly. It was a coping technique that had made him such an excellent general. He could see the bigger picture while being aware of the severity of the impact it would have on individuals. Aware of the impact, but never let it slow him down, lest he end up like this.

A crippled mess on the ground, hardly able to distinguish himself from the kyber crystal that had a millenia ago betrayed its Jedi before that Jedi could use it for dark means.

Obi-Wan tried to rally himself, tried to remind himself that like this he could help no one. The helpless couldn't do anything to change anyone else's suffering, only add to it.

He wasn't a victim, damn it all!

But the tears he cried spilled from his eyes, the pain that constricted his breathing was his lungs. Yet the harder he tried to stop, the harder he sobbed.

He had gone so long unheard, unforgiven, and unnoticed.

No one had known it was the kyber, not the other Jedi, who had killed the lightsaber's maker.

Obi-Wan knew, but for the life of him, he didn't know why he needed to learn this, what the Force was trying to tell him, why this kyber's tragic history mattered a thousand years later.

Time is perspective, the Force whispered to him as large arms encircled him.

Obi-Wan let himself be held, remembering where and when he was.

He wasn't a General, he had no war to fight, no troops to protect, and no Padawan to be strong for.

When Obi-Wan had begun to approach age thirteen, he had buried his pain, hid it away from his friends, from his Master, and later in life, from Anakin.

Maybe that had been a mistake.

Obi-Wan felt broken, and he had felt broken for so long, hidden from that feeling for so long, he no longer knew what was broken inside of him.

He clung to Mace, sobbing, hoping his old friend would be able to tell him what was wrong with him. What he needed to do to get over this.


Mace had been impressed by Obi-Wan's skills in Soresu. He clearly knew what the katas should look like, even if his muscles weren't prepared for the motions.

He had noticed the Initiate's distraction almost half an hour into the spar.

But it wasn't until Obi-Wan let out a pained sound, as if he had burned, and dropped his lightsaber did Mace see the shatterpoints light up like a meteor shower. He was horrified when he saw the self-contained and composed boy fall to pieces.

His stark fear scared Mace. It was the first time all day that Obi-Wan had shown a sliver of fear.

Then he spotted the shatterpoints in the saber, superimposed over Obi-Wan.

Mace cursed as he scooped the boy up, pouring his own Force presence over the child. He felt the pain ease in Obi-Wan, but he kept crying, which Mace was silently grateful for. Not because he enjoyed seeing anyone in pain, least of all a child, but it was best Obi-Wan not hold onto a pain that wasn't his.

Mace could see many old and not yet fully-formed shatterpoints that belonged to Obi-Wan, but none of them were critical, which was kind of frightening.

There were many different types and intricacies to shatterpoints. The ones he saw on Obi-Wan were points that would change who he was, what he was, where he went, but Mace couldn't find many without digging, which would shatter the child's sanity.

That was a good thing. It meant the boy was resilient, destined for great things. But it also indicated that he would likely grow up to be someone who took on weights that were too much to expect of any individual.

Depa turned the corner, her face lined with worry.

"Call for Master Ali-Alann," Mace said.

She pulled her comm.

He was already walking out. Depa touched Obi-Wan's cheek before brushing back his hair. Obi-Wan didn't flinch away from her, but his eyes remained tightly shut, fists still tight around fistfulls of Mace's robes.

"What happened?" she asked.

Mace almost growled, "The training saber. The kyber tried sharing a memory with him."

"Wait, actively? Like it was trying to commune with him?" she asked as she picked it up off the floor tentatively.

"I think it just wanted to be heard, that kyber has been hurting for a long time. It may need to be retired."

She nodded. As they exited the training area, Master Ali-Alann caught up with them, looking as if he had sprinted here.

Mace repeated the tale of what had happened.

The tension eased from Ali-Alann's shoulders and he smoothed a hand over Obi-Wan's head, murmuring to him softly.

"Has he eaten today?" he asked.

Mace nodded. "Yes, this happens often?"

Ali-Alann shook his head. "Daymares are rare for him. He is hypersensitive. I fear he may have to learn to be less empathic to be functional and safe on missions. He often shares nightmares with other younglings. It's why I approved of him moving out of the group creche early into a double with an older boy, Quinlan Vos."

"I thought he was gifted at shielding," Depa said, echoing Mace's thoughts.

"He's good at keeping what he feels inward, at not projecting himself. He's not as good at shielding things out. Part of why he is such good friends with Quin is because they have many shared experiences and have helped one another through episodes like this."

"I'm wary of bringing him to Ilum," Mace said.

Ali-Alann nodded. "As am I. But Obi-Wan is resilient. He'll be right as rain tomorrow morning."

Mace didn't argue, but he knew for a fact that wasn't true. Ignoring one's pain and trauma wasn't the same as dealing with it.

"Come," Ali-Alann said, having not the slightest issue in bossing Council members around. "I doubt Master Tholme will deny Obi-Wan his friend."

Mace nodded.

Obi-Wan's eyes cracked open, his voice tired as he said, "Master Ali-Alann?"

Ali-Alann smiled. "Hello there, my little one."

Obi-Wan's body went lax, his hands dropping. Mace shifted the boy as Ali-Alann motioned that he would take the youngling.

Cradling him, Master Ali-Alann said, "Quin will be happy to return some favours."

Obi-Wan let out a weak chuckle, his eyes drooping shut. Still, he managed to say, "Thank you, Master -Wind, may o-Force ...with you."

"And with you," Mace said. "Rest well, my young friend."

Ali-Alann smiled, eyes twinkling as he dipped his head in a bow before turning with Obi-Wan.

Depa eyed Mace once the pair were out of earshot. "You're taken with him too, aren't you?"

Mace shook his head, his head cloudy with the days of events. "How peeved is the rest of the Council?"

"For skipping out on them, a Senate Committee, and the Chancellor?" she asked with a slight smile.

Mace winced.

"Grandmaster Yoda would like a word with you," she informed him with a bit too much cheer.

Mace let out a heavy sigh. "Of course he does."

Depa laughed.


When Ali-Alann set him on his feet and the door opened, Quin took one look at Obi-Wan before grabbing his hand and dragging him toward the refresher, before either Master Ali-Alann or Tholme could explain or give consent.

Obi-Wan didn't care, especially as he barely had energy to help Quin disrobe him. The hot water was bliss, and Quin's presence made Obi-Wan feel safer than he had felt in a long time.

It was good not to have responsibilities for once. It was even better to be the one cared for. When was the last time Obi-Wan had willingly let someone help?

He couldn't remember, and that was sort of depressing all on its own.


Yoda had warned him off from taking Obi-Wan as his Padawan, but as Mace lay awake that night, unable to sleep as he replayed the day's events in his mind, he came to a decision.

If no one took Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Padawan by the end of the month, he would.


Obi-Wan woke late in the night. Quin was using him as a pillow, his snoring filling the darkened room with an odd comfort.

Unable to fall back asleep, Obi-Wan laid awake, wondering how long he could keep this up and how long he could pretend to be younger than he was.

But something in the Force was trying to reassure him. Only, Obi-Wan was feeling the opposite of reassured. He was beginning to develop a theory. Something in him was changing; some knowledge that, with each night he slept and woke up, shifted the image of himself ever so slightly, in ways that he suspected would add up over time.

Obi-Wan wasn't losing his memories, per se, but with each day he lived, the future that might have been, of Bandomeer and his trials with Qui-Gon, Anakin and the Clone Wars, faded in its potency. He no longer could guess what tomorrow might bring and little things became harder to recall. It wasn't anything major he could put his finger on, necessarily, but he had spotted the trend. A part of him knew he would always remember the other timeline, but it was like a holodrama, someone else's life, someone else's trials.

He realized that, in a way, he was growing younger, the Force softening his edges, making him fit better. As if he wasn't from the future, but had merely seen a very detailed and linear option for the future.

He would always remember Anakin and Ahsoka, but until he met them in person again, he wouldn't know them.

Soon, he feared, he wouldn't even think like that. He would remember Anakin was a boy from Tatooine, he would remember Ahsoka as someone he had been impressed by, but any memories would be gossamer dreams.

It made a certain amount of sense. He was changing so much, and planned to change so much more. What he remembered no longer would or could be as they had been before. Besides, it was Obi-Wan's spirit that had transcended time, not his body, not his brain.

Yes, the spirit could remember, but spirits faded. Fed by this younger life Force, he was changing, new memories taking precedence as they imprinted on his spirit and were ingrained in his mind.

Sure, as a Jedi, he could 'see' the future, but such things passed, just as the past life of a person did not dictate the future, nor did it dictate who they would be.

Still, Obi-Wan could not find any more sleep that night as he clung to every memory he had of Anakin, the ugly and the beautiful.

His brother, the boy he raised, the one person who mattered most to him, whom he loved most.

There was so much left unsaid between them, so many times Obi-Wan held his tongue, so many times he pushed instead of listened, or worse, listened when he should have spoken. All the cultural misunderstandings between them, all of Obi-Wan's human mistakes when he tried and failed to do the right thing, all the heartache and growing pains.

All the laughter and adventure.

All the pride he felt for the boy he worried didn't comprehend how much he was loved; not for what he could give the galaxy, but because of who he was. Anakin believed himself valued for all the wrong reasons.

Obi-Wan recited thing after thing he would tell Anakin if could, running it over and over again so he might not forget.

All the while, the Force whispered to him, Let go.


AN: Thoughts, feedback, a parade of puggles, or commentary on the chapter?

Chapter Text

AN: Buckle the kriff up, this chapter get's swinging. Thank you, Sectumus Prince! They just updated Crashing into Darkness!

KEYnote: Yoda is not evil and can be swayed in the right direction. Part of the problem I see with him is everyone folds to him and most people won't argue with you for agreeing with him. Yoda meddles, but others allow themselves to be maneuvered. I implied last chapter that Yoda making Mace the Speaker was to subdue his voice. This chapter proves that the Speaker has more authority in the Council than Yoda himself.

Chapter 4 - Pressure Cooker

Obi-Wan sat down beside Bant for their mission operation class. However, he ended up tuning out a lot of the basic information.

He may have been losing his memories, but he had been both a Council Member and a High General of the GAR. He doubted the paperwork was ever going to be something he forgot.

Such was the case that when Ki-Adi Mundi, who rarely taught, called on Obi-Wan, he had been spacing out for some time.

Siri and Bruck snickered.

"Could you repeat the question, please, Master?" Obi-Wan asked. It was an effort to be polite.

Ki-Adi Mundi was one of Obi-Wan's least favourite members. Despite the fact that the Cerean had a veritable harem of wives and fifteen children, he had been the harshest on both Obi-Wan and Anakin for their apparent 'attachment' to each other, their conduct on missions, Obi-Wan's sass, Anakin's attitude, and, generally, nothing they could ever do was good enough for him.

He was Plo Koon's extreme opposite on the Council.

Ki-Adi was also the most vocal about kicking Anakin out of the Order, and disallowing Obi-Wan to take the title of Master, let alone a Council seat.

The war pushed the Council over, as Qui-Gon's Padawan, as Dooku's grandpadawan, and even as Anakin's Master, Obi-Wan was among the most experienced for being on the frontlines.

Qui-Gon was never sent on missions that were likely to remain diplomatic.

Ki-Adi's smile was thin, clearly displeased with being ignored.

"Say you're stranded on Tatooine."

Obi-Wan snorted and caught it poorly with a cough.

Ki-Adi stopped with a glare as his classmates gaped him.

"Do you find that funny, Initiate Kenobi?"

"No, Sir," Obi-Wan said mildly.

"You crash on Tatooine, you need your ship to be repaired and you have no safe communication off the planet, what do you do?"

Enter a slave boy into a race, bet everything you have on him, and hope he's the Chosen One?

"Lie, cheat, and barter?" Obi-Wan offered.

Ki-Adi's glower was nothing short of hostile. "Who told you that?"

Was Obi-Wan willing to throw Qui-Gon under speeder on this one…

Considering how much Qui-Gon intelligently pissed Ki-Adi off on a regular basis, which was probably the root of why Ki-Adi disliked Obi-Wan so much, he went for it, figuring it was a fifty-fifty shot Qui-Gon would be honoured, or at least amused.

"Master Qui-Gon Jinn advised it," Obi-Wan said with an innocent smile.

It wasn't even a lie. It just hadn't happened in this timeline yet.

Obi-Wan was immediately rewarded with a flush seeping up the Master's cheeks.

"He's wrong," Ki-Adi said definitively.

"He's not," Obi-Wan said with the same surety.

Bant tugged on his arm and whispered, "Obi-Wan, what are you doing?"

"Are you challenging me, Initiate?"

Obi-Wan shook his head,."No, you're challenging Master Qui-Gon Jinn."

Yeah, pitting two Masters against each other while one wasn't present wasn't a great idea. But Obi-Wan was privy to inner Council politics. Sifo-Dyas, Dooku (though not on the Council), Qui-Gon (also not on the Council), Plo Koon, and Depa were on one side. Ki-Adi, Yoda, Koth, and Tiin were on the other. Mace kind of floated. As he spoke for the entirety of the Council, he often spoke with Yoda's intentions. Yet, as one of Mace's closer friends, Obi-Wan knew that he was more… progressive than he appeared to be.

"You think to speak for a Master Jedi?"

Obi-Wan shrugged. "Tatooine is a part of the Hutt Empire and is one hyperlane link to Nar Shaddaa. Force-sensitives make a very large profit in an open market. If you are stuck on Tatooine, you shouldn't reveal that you are associated with the Jedi. It isn't as if anyone is particularly sympathetic to the Republic there, either. You need to do whatever you have to to get off that planet as soon as possible. You can't count on a rescue, and the only types of missions you would ever be assigned there would be undercover. So, Master Jinn is correct, you do whatever you have to to get out alive."

Ki-Adi looked like he would argue, and Obi-Wan offered in his most innocent tone, "We could comm him."

"Excuse me?" Ki-Adi asked.

"Master Jinn," Obi-Wan said. "He's still stationed at the Temple."

Ki-Adi looked momentarily lost, then he smiled benignly. "If you feel that you want to interrupt a Master on his time off—"

Obi-Wan pulled out his comm, knowing better than anyone just how much Qui-Gon loved to pull on the Council's tail. He had memorized his frequency, and Qui-Gon picked up on the first signal.

-Jinn.

"Hello Master Qui-Gon, this is Obi-Wan. I'm in Master Ki-Adi Mundi's mission operation class and we wanted your input on the scenario of being stranded in Hutt territory."

There was a long pause, the Qui-Gon responded, voice pleasant, -I would be honoured.

It had been over a decade since Qui-Gon had died, and Obi-Wan's memories were fading, but it seemed he still knew the old Maverick well enough.

Ki-Adi looked like he was fighting to keep his composure. "Initiate Kenobi, we will talk about your behaviour today."

Obi-Wan blinked at him innocently. "I thought you wanted an honest answer to your question, Master Mundi? I will remember in the future you would prefer me to repeat the standard text."

Ki-Adi's jaw visibly ticked.

Obi-Wan had to look down to hide his smirk, if Ki-Adi was upset now, he might be screaming by the time Qui-Gon was done with him.

Qui-Gon entered the tense and awkward classroom less than ten minutes later. He was the picture of cordial and polite.

Obi-Wan sat back and held onto his composure by his fingertips as Ki-Adi was driven round and round in circles.

Revenge was not the way of the Jedi, but this did feel like a certain measure of karma.

Ki-Adi didn't scream, but he had quite forgotten about the class as he debated with Qui-Gon, and it was Qui-Gon who dismissed them, having never lost sight of their audience.

Obi-Wan flashed both Masters a smile and didn't remain after class as Ki-Adi had instructed.

As an eleven-year-old, it was probably the most rebellious thing he had done in his life. He all but sprinted to Quin's room to update his friend all about it.

Quin was in stitches by the time Obi-Wan was done detailing how Qui-Gon had schooled Ki-Adi in Huttese and common gambling techniques that were less than proper for Initiate curriculum.

By the end of dinner, even Master Tholme was smiling behind his teacup.


Mace had a headache.

More of a migraine, to be clear.

He respected Ki-Adi Mundi, didn't agree with him on much, but he respected him. But the minute the Council meeting was up for the evening, he was out the door, Sifo-Dyas following in his wake in amicable cloud, Depa following after, probably to reassure herself that her old Master wasn't going to murder than man responsible for the latest disaster.

Mace didn't even knock as he entered Qui-Gon Karking Jinn's suit.

Dooku was there. He took one look at Mace's expression and threw his head back in a deep laugh.

Even Feemor, the good one, was holding a hand over his mouth.

"What in the seven Sith hells did you say to Ki-Adi?" Mace demanded.

Qui-Gon shrugged. "I was invited to speak before his initiate class."

Dooku chuckled, Sifo-Dyas choked back a laugh, and even Depa smothered a smile.

Mace glared at all of them before settling back on Qui-Gon. "Why would he ever invite you anywhere? Ki-Adi can't stand you."

Qui-Gon motioned for them to sit and Feemor went about preparing tea.

Qui-Gon said, "Obi-Wan Kenobi invited me."

Mace felt his left eye twitch.

Depa broke, and soon the whole table was laughing again, the Force alight with so many powerful Jedi being so openly merry.

"What was even the topic?" Mace asked, still grumpy.

"What to do if you're stranded in territory ruled by the Hutts," Qui-Gon said mildly.

Feemor shook his head. "Obi-Wan had to have known what would have happened if that was the topic."

"No. No, he couldn't have possibly known," Mace said. "Not unless you told him about that fraud. It's been kept within the Council's circles."

Qui-Gon shrugged. "I can't recall when I mentioned to Obi-Wan that the best way to deal with criminals is to play along until you can get away, but I've sat with him for a few meals now. It was just luck that it was with Ki-Adi that the subject came up."

"Luck," Mace almost spat.

"I was surprised to get his call," Qui-Gon said. "Obi-Wan is certainly one of the bravest Initiates I've ever encountered."

That, at least, was certainly true.

"I would like to meet this young one," Dooku remarked.

Get in line, Mace almost snapped, but refrained, just barely. Ki-Adi had pushed him and the other Council members into an unfocused, energy-intensive debate over proper protocols.

Depa laid a hand over one of his. "Master, whatever happened today, whatever Qui-Gon did, Ki-Adi's behaviour was shameful."

Sifo-Dyas nodded. "Yes, it was. Control over oneself is marked by being able to deal with outside irritants. Ki-Adi demonstrated his control comes from a philosophy of dominating others."

"He should retire," Dooku said definitively. "Ki-Adi Mundi claims to represent the older generations currently at the Order, but I and Sifo-Dyas are his seniors. He preaches of an ideal that he himself has never amounted to."

Mace finally snapped, "What do you want me to do, Dooku!? Yoda wanted you and Qui-Gon to join the Council. You both turned down the position. Tholme is training Quinlan Vos to be a Knight Shadow; he doesn't have time to fill the position."

Which was both a step above and below a regular Shadow. It meant he would be assigned to Senate-approved missions, only undercover, hidden from even other Knights. Regular Shadows were Knights who served the Corps outside of the Republic.

Dooku smiled, a gleam in his eye. "Retire Ki-Adi, Yaddle, Piell, and Poof. Reinstate Jocasta Nu, nominate Knight Kit Fisto, and when Eeth retires, nominate Shaak Ti. Then I, as well as Qui-Gon, will accept your promotion."

Mace gaped at him. "Kit is younger than Depa!"

Depa shrugged. "Kit is like Plo and a Master of Form I. A younger voice would be welcome."

"You agree to this?" Mace asked Qui-Gon, even though he had not a clue how he would pass the motion. Ki-Adi would not leave willingly.

Qui-Gon paused, and Mace felt him settle in the Force, then he said, "When Yoda retires, Shaak Ti, and then Feemor, are to be considered, then I will agree, if," he met Mace's gaze directly, "you can pull this all of."

"Master…" Feemor murmured.

Qui-Gon smiled at him. "You are young, but you have seen more of the galaxy than most, more outside the Republic than most. This is needed."

Mace put his head in his hands, and Depa rubbed a hand in circles around his back while Dooku squeezed his shoulder, despite the fact that they had been the ones to shove this mountain of a challenge on him.

But would it be worth it? To have a council that could move the Order forward, to have a Council that could back against the Senate?

Yes.

Mace felt the Force reach out to him in answer, and he let out a long sigh as the Force eased the pounding in his skull. He was left with a profound hope for the future of not just the Order, but the Republic.


Obi-Wan was bone-tired in the best of ways.

"Soresu?" Quin teased him. "You're so boring, Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes, too tired to even come up with a comeback. He and Quin had been practicing their katas for nearly four hours. They had showered in the dojo changing rooms; their dirty clothes would be brought up by droids by the morning.

Quin bumped his hip into his side, asking, "You okay?"

Obi-Wan suppressed a grimace, knowing he wasn't talking about the sparring marathon. Quin knew him and knew something fundamental had changed inside of him.

Even the mournful green lightsaber that was now semi-bonded with him had tried to take on some of his burdens, as if to say, I am the old one, young one. Let go.

Let go.

It was something he had been told before, but never so often as these last few months.

But why was the Force so approving of him letting his memories fade when it had brought him back? Had he already changed what the Force wanted changed, or did he need to let go to be able to follow what was to come?

The latter seemed likely, even if it made Obi-Wan feel unsettled, because if he forgot everything, he wouldn't be the same child he had. He knew too much about the galaxy now. He believed in too much horror that his sheltered original younger self wouldn't have been able to accept. Wisdom came from believing in the worst and fighting for the best.

Obi-Wan wasn't sure if the Masters had caught on to something being wrong with him or not, but he was pretty sure they had. Yet something was up with the Council that made them not focus on him.

"Master Ki-Adi Mundi missed this week's class," Obi-Wan said to divert the topic. The question of if he was okay didn't have a good answer.

He was a thirty-year-old man in an eleven-year-old's body, turning into an eleven-year-old with a Master Jedi's connection, yet not control, over his Force gifts.

He was, in layman's terms, too powerful for his development and too much knowledge about the grievances of the galaxy for his current level of emotional intelligence and fluctuating hormones. He was going to be in deep banthashit once puberty fully hit.

At the rate his future-self was fading, he expected to be a regular teenager with an over-developed sensitivity to the Force.

Obi-Wan didn't feel okay about that, not at all.

"Master Tholme says he's been close to raging," Quin said as they continued to walk back to Quin's room.

Obi-Wan shook his head. "Power corrupts, even the Jedi aren't immune to that."

More often than not, when it came to the High Council, it wasn't even that they were corrupt in the way the Senators were corrupt, they weren't greedy or selfish, but many did grow too comfortable.

Complacent.

Obi-Wan had not been comfortable on the Council, which was either why he had been given charge of the largest portion of the GAR, or the result of his authority.

Quin was about to speak, but Obi-Wan grabbed him, pulling him into the wall. Soon-to-be-Shadow that he was, Quin pressed Obi-Wan to the wall, and together they silenced their own energies in the Force.

They were good, so good that when four Council members—Masters Ki-Adi Mundi, Even Piell, Eeth Koth, and Saesee Tiin—rounded the corner, they went unnoticed.

Of course, maybe it was their own noise they couldn't hear over. These four Council members were near deafening in the Force with their anger and outrage.

"Stop," Master Even Piell said, his long ears dropping. "Ki-Adi, stop. Mace will use your anger as a reason to take away your position."

Ki-Adi huffed, "I cannot believe Yaddle, Poli Dapatian, and Yareal Poof willingly retired. Who even is replacing them?"

"Jocasta returned to her position. We four were the ones to suggest her retirement last year. But Mace, Depa, Plo, Sifo-Dyas, and Yoda sided in allowing her to refill her vacancy," Even continued.

"Without our concession!" Ki-Adi said.

"With three vacant seats, they are the majority," Saesee Tiin rumbled.

"Which means they aren't consulting us on who they are bringing in! We were cast out of the meeting today!" Ki-Adi nearly shouted.

"Because you picked a fight with Mace!" Eeth Koth exclaimed. "After your tantrum last week, he wasn't putting up with it. Because we three agreed with you, he had the right to do so. Mace is the Speaker of the Council, if the Council is unable to come to a settlement, the Speaker can expedite certain issues. Like three vacant seats, for instance."

"With those five, now six, our input was only a token," Even said darkly. "We no longer have the numbers to sway the votes, to sway Master Yoda."

Obi-Wan turned his head to look up into dark eyes. They were as wide as his own. The Council had heated debates, it was typical and even likely that debates could carry on for days or weeks.

But it was almost unheard of for multiple Council members to be expelled from discussions for ill behaviour.

Obi-Wan found it especially jarring as these four had always been in the majority for as long as he recalled. Mace, Depa, Plo, and Yoda might not always agree with them, but they certainly acquiesced to their views on almost any given matter.

"Who is replacing the three seats?" Ki-Adi demanded.

"Master Dooku, Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and Adi Gallia," Even said flatly.

Saesee Tiin made a pained sound, and Ki-Adi all but exploded, "Are they insane!? And we are still under review as well? Who next, who would replace us?"

Even sighed, "Kit Fisto, Shaak Ti, and Master Feemor."

"Two junior Knights and a Seeker!" Ki-Adi yelled.

Obi-Wan buried his face in Quinlan's chest. He had never seen Ki-Adi pushed so far. The man was so apathetic, he spoke the right jargon, but Obi-Wan had always expected that there was worse deeper in the man.

It was a pity he was one of the few Knights allowed to have a marriage. It wouldn't have worked out well for Anakin, but for Tahl and Qui-Gon… The Jedi Order deserved better than secret love, deserved better than to be ashamed of needing help or caring deeply for another.

Three months into the Clone Wars and Obi-Wan had seen desperate things done for the loss of a Padawan or the loss of a Master. If the Order could learn to love and let go, they would be stronger than to teach the abstinence of attachment so there was never a need to let go.

"You were only a Knight, Ki-Adi Mundi," a fifth voice spoke into the hall.

It was Mace Windu himself.

Quinlan held Obi-Wan tight, as if he had moved to step out of the shadows to greet Mace, to see his face as he finally spoke his own mind to Ki-Adi. But Quin held him in place.

"You have too many young ones on the Council now," Ki-Adi argued.

"Yoda and Jocasta are old enough for the lot of us."

Sifo-Dyas's laugh lightened the surrounding Force before he said, "I dare you to say that to Jocasta's face, Mace."

Mace didn't sound amused as he said, "The four of you have been stripped of your positions."

"You said there would be time!" Saesee Tiin growled.

"Yes, until the four of you started projecting your emotions where even Adi Gallia could feel it nearly on the other side of the building. Your emotions are dragging on the Force—the entirety of the Temple can hear you. It is a display unbecoming of four Jedi Masters and unacceptable as Council members," Mace said smoothly.

That chastened three out of four of the once Council members.

But, of course, Ki-Adi kept on, "If you care about decorum, why elect Qui-Gon Jinn?"

"Because the Republic is failing and the Order's numbers are declining. The Force is ready for things to change and we must embrace that."

"You think you know what the Force wants?" Ki-Adi asked.

"Do you?" Mace asked. "You rely on tradition. Qui-Gon Jinn listens to the Living Force. True, I believe him to be short-sighted at times, but he is a voice among many, now. I know our traditions as well as you, but I would not choose that which has passed over the input of an active view of the Force this Temple has long neglected."

"I have the Cosmic Force covered," Sifo-Dyas said a bit wistfully.

Even Ki-Adi Mundi didn't argue that one. Sifo-Dyas had been hospitalized for months from visions and a freakish amount of the futures he saw came to pass.

Maybe that's why the Force wanted Obi-Wan to be young again: to not go mad.

"You're making a mistake," Ki-Adi warned.

Mace merely said, "If any of you wish to take personal time, you've been granted six weeks. Otherwise, expect to return to the field."

There was silence, then it was as if a concert had suddenly had the power cut as the Force ran clear without the disgruntled Council members spilling themselves into it.

Obi-Wan let out a long breath, relaxing into Quin, who also relaxed, his shoulders lowering.

The four 'retired' Council members left, and a minute later, Mace said, much closer to them, "Padawan Vos, Initiate Kenobi."

"How did you sense us?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Your lightsabers," Sifo-Dyas said with a slight smile. "The one you carry, Young Obi-Wan, is quite loud."

Obi-Wan grimaced. "I know. It likes me, but I don't think we are a good match."

"The next ship to Ilum leaves in two weeks," Mace said, giving Obi-Wan a look that he couldn't decipher, which was odd on its own.

Obi-Wan had learned to read Mace's face; it was a survival skill, if nothing else.

Anakin had still been freaked out by Mace, even after his Knighting. Anytime Mace joked with the younger Knight, the humour went over his head.

Obi-Wan hadn't figured out a way to let Anakin in on the jokes without making his apprentice feel more insulted.

Some days, Anakin was about as sociable as a Jaaku cactus.

"Knight Feemor received a message to pick a youngling on Stewjon," Sifo-Dyas said abruptly.

Obi-Wan startled. "I-I mean, would I be allowed to go? I don't want to see my birth family, but I do want to investigate the culture. Stewjon is an enigma. Some texts call it a backwater moon, and others claim it's a planet that is essentially a miniature Alderaan."

"You may go, and you should go," Sifo-Dyas said, though something was a bit off about his voice, his gaze a bit distant.

Mace gave Sifo-Dyas a startled look. Clearly he hadn't been consulted on this. Still, he didn't protest. He only said, "You'll have to keep your lightsaber here and commission civilian clothing, and that's if Master Feemor agrees to take you."

Obi-Wan grinned. All initiates were allowed to visit their homeworld at least once.

Quin grabbed his shoulders. "Be careful, Obi-Wan. It's still the Mandalore system."

Obi-Wan nodded, taking Quin's hand. "I promise."

"May the Force be with you," Mace said, again with that odd note in his tone.

Obi-Wan smiled up at him. "And with you."


Feemor stared at Mace and Qui-Gon. "I would be more honoured if I felt I had more of a say in this."

"You know you do," Qui-Gon said.

Feemor sighed. "Well, at least I know Council meetings won't be too boring."

"You agreed to take Obi-Wan with you to Stewjon?" Mace asked abruptly.

Feemor frowned. "Of course I did. All younglings have that right, before or after they've been chosen as a Padawan."

"Have you? Have either of you?"

Feemor set down his teacup. He wasn't the only one frowning now.

Qui-Gon asked, "Have either of us what, Mace? Why are you so upset? You've been like this since yesterday. The Council—"

"This isn't about the Council," Mace said dismissively.

"Really?" Feemor asked. "Because I could have sworn you were just asking me to join. Which I do agree to, by the way."

"Good," Mace said. "But I meant, have either of you chosen Obi-Wan Kenobi as your Padawan learner?"

Feemor sat back, stunned. "No, I mean—No, I have not asked him."

He looked at Qui-Gon. Yes, Feemor had considered it, but he wasn't quite ready to share his life with another being just yet. Taking on a Padawan was akin to adopting a child, and he felt more prepared to join the High Council than that.

Qui-Gon shook his head. "No, it's too soon for me. I need time to reflect on what went wrong between me and Xanatos. Why?"

Mace let out a long breath. "Because once Feemor and Obi-Wan return from Stewjon, I plan to ask him to be my next apprentice."

Feemor smiled. "I think you are well-suited to each other."

Mace gave the smallest of smiles in return. "I hope the Force agrees with the sentiment."


AN: Okay, next chapter is Mandalore, I tried putting it in this one but it was too much. So another update tomorrow :D

Please, please, review with your thoughts, feelings, parades and parades of puggles(Google it), and feedback? Pretty please?

Chapter Text

Clarification: Obi-Wan will remember most things, like a movie or book you've read and loved and cried through, but the specific details, unless something really jogs his memories, is fading. Is that more like a vision? Yes, it is, because look how much 35 year old Kenobi has changed things in the short time he was present, but the Force needs him to be able to live his life, not stuck second guessing a future that can never again be as it was.

Obi-Wan is fearful, however, that he will lose more than I will take from him.

-):0:(-

The Council of this Timeline

(I'm aware it doesn't fit Legends or canon perfectly, but I still like to have consistency within my own stories so here's the cheat sheet for those of you who are like me and enjoying knowing who's who in a story)

Start of this chapter: , 2. Yoda, 3. Mace, 4. Depa, 5. Ki-Adi Mundi, 6. Plo Koon, 7. Even Priel, 8. Eeth Koth, 9. Yarael Poof, 10. Poli Dapatian, 11. Saesee Tiin, 12. Jocasta Nu's empty seat

Removed: 1. Ki-Adi Mundi, 2. Even Preil, 3. Eeth Koth, and 4. Saesee Tiin

Retired: 5. Yaddle, 6. Poli Dapatian, 7. Yarael Poof.

Seven Council members turned over in about a week.

Soon to be Council: 1. Mace, 2. Sifo-Dyas, 3. Plo Koon, 4. Depa, 5. Jocasta Nu, 6. Dooku, 7. Qui-Gon Jinn, 8. Adi Gallia, 9. Kit Fisto, 10. Shaak Ti, 11. Feemor, 12. Yoda (who is planning on retiring when this group has settled in a year or two).

-):0:(-

KEYNOTE: Assume once we get to Mandalore everyone is speaking Mando'a.

Warning: Mentions of child abuse.

Chapter 5 - Foundlings

The flight hadn't been extensively long, and Obi-Wan spent the majority of the time meditating. There was something the Force was trying to tell him. In the safety of the ship, with only Master Feemor onboard, Obi-Wan felt comfortable enough to submerge himself in the Living Force that buoyed around him happily, chatting away in a voice Obi-Wan could make neither heads nor tails of.

By the time they landed, Obi-Wan was exhausted and disconcerted.

"Stay in the village," Feemor said as they walked down the ramp of their unmarked shuttle, "be careful not to reveal yourself in any way. Stewjon is the agricultural gem of the Mandalore system. Mandalorians come here to retire, but most of the population are people who want no part in war."

Obi-Wan nodded. He knew all this—in fact, he knew more about the Mandalore system than Feemor did. Despite what he had learned about the course his life would have taken, it still seemed funny to Obi-Wan that farming was in his blood.

Feemor squeezed his shoulder. He did not say their people's parting words, but Obi-Wan felt them in his heart, all the same.

The village centered around the port. They had electricity, droids, and oddly reminded him of Tatooine in that there almost seemed to be more droids than people.

That there were so few people here at Stewjon's bigger settlement, maybe a couple thousand, if that, told Obi-Wan that Mandalorians, as a larger culture, didn't give a kriff about farming.

Civilian clothing made him anonymous; however, he was still marked as by everyone he passed.

Obi-Wan went to the first diner he saw and took a seat at the bar. A part of him wanted to order something with high caffeine, or better yet, something with high alcohol content.

But he knew the urge came from a place that he wanted to prove he was older. The impulse, in and of itself, told him he was fading, his years from the future a mere memory, mere dreams.

He wanted to order a drink to prove he was older. His contrary nature that he didn't want to be a child.

But that was a child's wish.

So he ordered a blue shake, because if he was a child, he would not be a stupid one. He would not let his contrary nature best him.

The bartender smiled at him, a blonde man with eyes the same as his own, and said in Mando'a, "Hello, little outsider."

"Hello," he said.

"You look like us," the man noted, still speaking in Mando'a. "What's your name?"

"Obi-Wan Kenobi," he answered, hoping he did, and yet also hoping he didn't, have any relatives in this room. He didn't want family ties, but he did want to understand the culture he had been born into. Understand this strange corner of Mandalore that was unmarred by war.

Except the response his name had on the bar was immediate. Everyone went quiet and turned to look at him.

Obi-Wan turned to look at them, quiet, waiting. What about his name gave him away? Did they know he was a Force-sensitive.

The patrons, all in work clothes, turned to the one man in the corner who wasn't a farmer.

Obi-Wan tried not to tense as a fully-armoured man reached for his helmet. The glimpse of a grizzled face Obi-Wan caught was fierce.

The Cosmic Force told him to be afraid, while the Living Force cautioned him to stay.

The future possibilities and the present, ever at odds. Obi-Wan sort of regretted meditating with the Living Force, as he was forced to rely on his own judgement rather than follow two distinctly different pieces of Force-gifted advice.

The man stood and so did Obi-Wan. People hardly seemed to breathe as the Mandalorian crossed the room.

When he was standing before Obi-Wan, he said in Mando'a, "Child, come with me."

Obi-Wan followed, though maybe he shouldn't. Maybe this warrior would take him out to the middle of a field and execute him.

But aside from the Watch, Obi-Wan had never heard or seen a record of a Mandalorian targeting a child.

Children were, in a way, seen as a resource. Until the Great Clan Wars, bombing was rare for that reason. Raids and wars were fought either in space or with boats on the ground, metaphorically speaking, so each warrior could see who they were killing.

Kids were swept up by the victors, future warriors, who may or may not grow to be loyal.

There were, after all, reasons why civil war was such a near constant state in this system.

This particular Mandalorian, wearing grey padding with matte green armour, led Obi-Wan down along the river on the edge of the village. They stopped on a wooden bridge that crossed over where the river was thinnest.

The Mandalorian said nothing, and Obi-Wan didn't attempt to speak to him, content to observe.

The land here was green and blue. A little bit of Alderaan in these cursed lands. What would his path have been had he stayed? Had he been born in this village? Would the dam that slowed this mighty river have been among the largest things he had ever seen? Would he have learned to pilot, learning what it meant to soar through starlight?

Obi-Wan couldn't fathom it, staying in one place for the rest of his life.

If he was honest, it was one of his greatest fears in life. To be grounded, to only see one sunrise and one sunset till the end of his days.

Still, it was pleasant here. The breeze was cool and sweet, ruffling the leaves of the trees that framed the rice fields.

"You came back," the Mandalorian said finally.

"I don't plan on staying," Obi-Wan said mildly.

The Mandolorian took off his helmet. His dark brown eyes met Obi-Wan's gaze. "They're dead."

"Who?"

"Your parents. I killed them," he stated matter-of-factly.

Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows. It should have bothered him, and he was wary of this man, but he didn't remember his parents well enough to mourn them.

They were with the Force now and he already had a family.

The man's face darkened further. "You don't remember them, do you?"

Obi-Wan shook his head.

"Do you remember my son?" the man demanded.

Obi-Wan had a flash of being held, of an older boy running through a field with him.

"Do you remember my son, Oran Firre?"

Obi-Wan stilled, then nodded. "I remember an older boy, I thought he was my brother."

"He wasn't yours!" the man snapped at him. With a sneer, he turned, putting hand out to lean on the wooden rails. He spoke to the water, "I suppose you were young. You were born weak. Your parents were warriors of the highest calibre, but they left their clan when they joined the Watch. You do know who they are, don't you, boy?"

Obi-Wan nodded. "I know what the Death Watch are."

The man grunted, "Your father was getting on in years, too old to be easily accepted into a new clan. He was too proud, his reputation too bloody."

So much for farming after all, Obi-Wan thought wryly.

The man went on, "Your mother was much the same, and though she was younger, she should have been too old to have a child. You were as unexpected as you were unwanted."

"That's nice," Obi-Wan said dryly.

Then the man gave him such a look that he held his tongue.

"You were weak. Sickly, you were given the name Obi-Wan Kenobi, because like every Kenobi of Mandalorian birth, you were born to die. But you healed, you could hardly breathe as a babe, but as you aged, you got stronger, smarter. The village still believed you were cursed. You healed too well, you see."

Obi-Wan couldn't help but glare. "I won't apologize for surviving. Who are you, anyway?"

The man snarled at him silently, but Obi-Wan held his ground. If this man pulled a weapon on him, his best chance was close combat. He would be hurt, but he would rather take a beating than a blaster bolt. He had no lightsaber with him to keep him safe.

"I am Firre, the father of the boy who saved your worthless hide."

Obi-Wan said nothing. He waited for the attack, readying himself in the Force, yet the Force that cautioned him to be still. The Living and the Cosmic, no longer divided. That, at least, brought Obi-Wan comfort, and he focused on the Cosmic Force that imbued all things, that tied the galaxy together, and trusted that the Force had kept him alive for a purpose.

The Mandalorian didn't attack him, though. He merely sighed. "My son, Oran, took a shine to you. He was the one who taught you to walk, taught you our language. Your mother could hardly be bothered to feed you, much less anything else. She hated you for making her wait so long for you to pass on into the next life."

Obi-Wan frowned. "Why did she hate me?"

"Because you were weak," Firre said. "There was a reason your clansmen joined Death Watch. Your parents were proud people, legendary warriors in their own right. That clan would kill a babe in its crib if it was crippled or deformed."

"If I was so weak, why didn't she do that, then?" Obi-Wan demanded, disgusted at the notion that someone would kill their own babes for something so wholly out of their control.

It was a much needed reminder that Obi-Wan could read books all he liked, a people's culture was not a line of data.

"Because your mother gave birth on Stewjon, and that is not the way here. Your mother needed a medic to deliver you or she would have died. Like I said, she wasn't young. She would have been outcasted from this place had she killed an infant."

"But they thought I was cursed."

"You would have been given a new name on your third birthday," Firre stated.

"Why are you telling me all this?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Because I want you to understand that you being given to the Jettiese was my son's doing, not your parents. They were barbarians."

"Then I thank him for the life he gave me, for the family I have now," Obi-Wan said earnestly.

Firre looked back toward the water. "This is the Wan River. The One River. It is the longest and deepest on this planet, even with the dam stemming the flow." He looked back at Obi-Wan. "Your mother tried to reprimand you for something, and at the age of two, you defended yourself. With your magic."

Obi-Wan swallowed hard. "Did I hurt her?"

Firre met his gaze. "No, but it was all the reason she needed to take you to this river, and hold you beneath the surface."

Obi-Wan blinked fast, involuntarily looking at the water flowing beneath him.

He remembered a woman hissing at him, remembered being afraid, and he remembered drowning.

The water had been freezing, but his chest had burned. He had been so confused, terrified, nothing had made sense, and he never understood what he had done wrong.

"My son pushed her in and stole you from her," Firre continued. "He ran with you to the next village. He stashed you in an empty fishing crate with the communicator he used to send a plea to the Jedi to come and find you.

"He knew you better than your parents did. He must have known what you were before they did. He left you there and kept running. It was a gamble, you see. Would you starve to death before the Jettiese came? Would they even come for a Mandalorian? Would you freeze in the night in waterlogged clothes? Catch a fever?"

Obi-Wan's stomach roiled.

"Against all odds, you seemed to have survived, and the Jettiese apparently got to you before then."

Obi-Wan had the sickening feeling this story wasn't over.

"Your mother caught up to my son, and she tortured him before killing him. She never found you." His voice deepened as he continued, "But I found her, and her despicable husband that allowed all this. I executed them both for what they did." The man looked as if he would like to strangle Obi-Wan for the loss of his son as well. "You are never to forget what my son sacrificed for you, Obi-Wan Kenobi."

Obi-Wan shuddered, but bowed to the man. "I am grateful, and I am sorry for your loss. Oran didn't deserve his fate."

"No," Firre agreed, putting back on his helmet. "He did not. Your life was never worth his. You were born to die, and this galaxy would have been better if you had."

Obi-Wan flinched. There was so much hatred and sorrow behind those words from this still grieving father.

Obi-Wan's shoulders rounded with guilt.

His Masters at the Temple wouldn't have to worry about him finding attachments on his homeworld, but Obi-Wan knew he would need help processing this.

The horror he had been born in; a Mandalorian origin story fit for the holodramas.

It seemed Obi-Wan had been born for war after all.

A bringer of death, not peace.

He shook himself. My past does not define me, these people are not mine. I am a Jedi, and though our family is small, it is mighty.

The Great Clan Wars of the Mandalorian System did not belong to him.

Obi-Wan felt the shift in the Force, approaching darkness.

Not the work of the Sith, not a Jedi falling. But the simple violence of the galaxy. There was a dip in the Force, an echo, a prelude to the mass death to come before the Force accepted them home.

Obi-Wan looked up.

He recognized the missle, he had seen it used more than once, and he knew exactly what it would do when it landed. The shockwaves of a seismic charge could break durasteel. What it could do to human bones…

Anyone in range would die.

He watched it hit the dam, and the sound felt like a groundquake. Yet the water that broke like the first wave of a tsunami on a beach would not be what killed the villagers. The ripple shockwaves of the seismic stretched out, a shimmer of light before the water.

Firre shoved him off the bridge, and Obi-Wan tried to catch the man's hand, tried to pull him down with him. But the warrior took to the skies as Obi-Wan fell into the very river his mother had once attempted to drown him in.

He tried to hold his breath, but the impact of the fall knocked the wind out of him and he sucked in a mouth full of water and his younger body coughed.

He felt the water press on him, the river turned into a rapid as the dam rediscovered its natural course.

Blackness ate at his vision as he tried to find the sky.

He passed out before he found it.


The baby in his arms was crying and Feemor couldn't blame it. The little girl was half-starved and had been shoved into his arms as if it had been dirty laundry he had left behind.

The people of Stewjon did not kill children, thank the Force, but Force-sensitives were considered cursed. This baby had been declared a curse because of technology, ironically. Nine years ago, apparently a retired veteran had ordered a device that could take a midichlorian reading.

Feemor did not miss that the date matched the day Obi-Wan Kenobi had been retrieved from Stewjon. While Obi-Wan had been meditating in the cabin, Feemor had been reading up on Obi-Wan's file.

He had grown steadily more horrified by what he had found. Master Tyvokka and his Padawan, Plo Koon, had retrieved Obi-Wan, finding him half-starved and suffering from hypothermia, hidden away in an empty fishing crate. The list of his injuries revealed the darker side of Mandalorian culture.

Once Obi-Wan had arrived at the Temple, he had been treated for pneumonia. He had been afraid of the healers. Master Ali-Alann had needed to spend a full year with him before the youngling could be convinced he wasn't hated by everyone around, including the rest of his creche. From there, Obi-Wan had tried harder than any youngling in his generation to succeed in classes. He wasn't a genius nor the strongest in his class, but he would drive himself beyond endurance.

Master Ali-Alann had made a number of reports on the matter, not as punishment, but to draw a clear picture for whatever Master chose him that the boy would need continued care.

It actually explained to Feemor why Obi-Wan was so close to Quinlan. Typically, older students didn't have much interest in younger ones, but Quinlan Vos had had his own issues making friends.

The more Feemor had read, the more he felt that it had been a poor decision to bring Obi-Wan back to this planet.

Once he saw the bomb, Feemor knew they had all made a mistake. He had planned to do a health check on the infant back on his ship and report to the Council before retrieving Obi-Wan. But he didn't get that chance.

He managed to get the hatch closed in time, cradling the child to his chest as he just managed to strap them in. Their ship tumbled in the runoff from the dam, but they were far enough away that the shockwaves of the bomb went over them.

It took time until the ship finally came to a rest. The babe in his arms was screaming. He didn't have the concentration necessary to calm her as he fumbled with the buckle.

Even knowing the village was destroyed, even with the hungry infant in his arms, Feemor still climbed through the top hatch. The ship was rocked from the muddied water.

The destruction was complete.

Stay in the village.

There was no village, and with more gunships descending from the sky, Feemor knew he would have to leave or risk losing the baby he had come to retrieve.

Still, Feemor opened his Force shields wide, feeling the life Force on the planet. He felt more death than life, but he was a Master of the Living Force, and he extended his concentration.

He sent his search went so far and so wide that if he kept it for more than a few minutes he would have to face the repercussions of Force exhaustion.

Still, Feemor searched for the bright starlight that was Obi-Wan's.

"OBI-WAN!" Feemor shouted both aloud and into the Force.

All he received in turn was the sense of loss and the surety from the Force that Obi-Wan had moved on into the next life.

He folded around the wailing baby in his arms.

Devastation overcame Feemor. He didn't know how he would be able to tell Mace that Obi-Wan was never coming home.


Obi-Wan woke, soaked to the bone, and promptly threw up the Wan River.

"We have a survivor!" someone called in Mando'a.

A heavy hand pounded his back, causing Obi-Wan to brace, lest he fall back into the stony bank.

When the last of the river was purged from his lungs, he looked up and sighed in relief at the man he saw. "Cody."

The man blinked, and Obi-Wan realized in horror he had named the wrong clone. He flushed, reaching out with the Force, then sucking back his shields, shutting down his Force signature.

Jango Fett.

But that was impossible. Jango was de—

And then Obi-Wan remembered where he was.

When he was.

Then, finally, what had happened.

Obi-Wan scrambled to his feet, looking up the river to the village. Jango Fett caught him as he stumbled, his boots rolling over skittering river stones.

Obi-Wan had no words to express his fear. Still, he had to know. Breathing had been a challenge, speaking was much harder. His lips were numb with cold as he asked in Mando'a, "The village—What happened to the village?"

Jango looked at him with sympathy. "So far, you are the only survivor."

Obi-Wan felt his knees go weak, and if Jango hadn't been holding him up, he would have fallen. He began shaking, and it wasn't just because the air was chill and his clothes were completely soaked.

Master Feemor is dead.

Obi-Wan was too weak physically to fight the tears.

Qui-Gon would hurt because of him.

Again.

He felt like the child he aped as he asked the Force why?

Why send him back if he couldn't spare the people he loved pain?

But that was a child's question.

The Force was larger, the galaxy larger, there were larger matters than the people he loved.

"Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la," Jango said.

Not gone, merely marching far away.

Obi-Wan nodded, the motion jerky and too fast.

"Your parents?" Jango asked.

Obi-Wan shook his head, and answered honestly, knowing that Jango would view him better for it. "My parents have been dead a long time. He was my brother."

"Do you have anyone else?" another warrior asked.

He shook his head. Not on this planet, anyway. Though, selfishly, he didn't want to return to the Temple and be the one to tell Qui-Gon this.

"Your name, adiik?" Jango asked.

Obi-Wan looked up at that familiar face, noting the five other Mandalorians, and answered, "Obi-Wan Kenobi."

The warriors all stopped, and one let out a low whistle. Jango scowled down at him, "Obi-Wan Kenobi?"

Obi-Wan shifted away from the man. "Yes, do you know me?"

"We know your parents hated you," one of the helmeted warriors said.

Obi-Wan realized that Jango had probably only taken his helmet off to not frighten him.

"Shut it, Maas," Jango growled.

"Why would you say that?" Obi-Wan asked even though he knew the truth of it.

Jango winced. "Your name. It means, No One from Nowhere."

Obi-Wan raised a brow, his likely purple lips twitching into an almost smile. The meaning of his name seemed rather poetic. Anakin certainly would have gotten a kick out of it. Smothering his flair of hysteria, he said, "It's my name, and I don't want my clan or family name, I didn't know them."

"You had a brother," Jango said.

"He wasn't blood," Obi-Wan said, then in the Mando'a phrase, "But kin is more than blood."

"Were you a cripple when you were young?" the one name Maas asked.

"Maas," Jango growled.

Obi-Wan shrugged. "I know I had a lot of allergies, and I've always been kind of small."

Jango knelt before him. "Did your guardians ever harm you?"

Obi-Wan's cold lips thinned and he said only, "They weren't my guardians."

It was a very Mandalorian backstory; a tale of blood, kin, betrayal, and more blood. Obi-Wan wished he could stop it, stop the war, create something more lasting than the extremist pacifist planet Satine had created.

It was admirable, but Obi-Wan knew in his blood that it was not something that could ever last.

And Mandalore needed something that could last. There were so many evils in the galaxy, how could it be so hard for them to find an outside enemy beyond the Republic rather than fighting each other?

Jango's hand tightened on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "Your people are gone, the Watch left none behind. Stewjon is now a contested territory, it is no longer safe here. We are the True Mandalorians, and you, Obi-Wan Kenobi, are welcome among us."

Even with his shields clamped shut to keep from slipping up and accidentally revealing himself, he felt the sincerity in Jango's words.

He felt too the push of the Force against him to accept the offer.

It was unlikely that a True Mandalorian would hurt him, but it was always good to remember that every Mandalorian was themselves an individual. And individuals were often hard to account for.

Still, the Force yelled at him and Obi-Wan saw the Force's intent, what it wanted from him.

The Force didn't want him to be a Jedi, to relive his life as he had. The Force needed him to go to Stewjon, to be here and reclaim his birthright as a Mandalorian.

His heart sank as he realized what he would have to do, that he would have to say goodbye to his home, his people.

Obi-Wan wanted Mandalore to find peace, and the Force needed him to be here.

He wondered how much Jango Fett would hate that the reason Obi-Wan would choose the way of a Mandalorian was because of his mandate as a Jedi Knight.

Obi-Wan bowed his head. "Thank you, Jango."

Jango smiled. "You'll do alright, ad'ika." He stood, putting his helmet back on. "Chakraborty, get him back to the ship. We'll do a final sweep to see if any of the Watch do anything more than simply destroy."

A warrior dressed in silver armour over red padding touched Obi-Wan's back, leading him away to his new life.

His new path.

He wouldn't contact the Order, it was better they believed him dead. If they came for him, the Mandalorians would likely shoot before hearing out his reasons. Besides, this was where the Force wanted him. For too long the Jedi as a whole had ignored the bidding of the Force.

Obi-Wan would be deaf no longer.

As he walked onto the shuttle, he did hesitate, just a step.

Quin would be distraught when news of his death reached the Temple.

Obi-Wan turned to watch as one of the two transports lifted him up. The place where the village had been was now a smouldering lake, the river darkened by the debri. If he hadn't known there was a settlement there, it might have looked like a mere landslide.

Obi-Wan's heart ached as they rose higher, a part of him breaking as he accepted this new path, as he realized how short-lived his two months of peace had lasted.

But one could not live in the past forever.

The irony was not lost on him.

Again Obi-Wan thought of Quinlan. He shut his eyes and whispered into the Force, I'm sorry.

But telling the Jedi Order would have consequences. He knew how protective the True Mandalorians were, and he knew that even if he formally left the Order, as an actual minor, he would have to go through some sort of legal adoption process.

That would demand the Mandalorians and Jedi to meet, which typically didn't end well, even if everyone had good intentions.

Besides, telling Quinlan he was alive might very well end up being pointless.

Obi-Wan was going back into another civil war.

People died in war, and the chances of him dying as a Mandalorian were higher than as a Jedi.

Because in Mandalore, the war never truly ended.


AN: DUN, DUN, DUN! Next chapter has many tears and comfort :D Thoughts and feedback on this chapter?

Chapter Text

AN: Yeah, this chapter is hurt/comfort all round. I know a lot of people feel chipped by Mace and Obi-Wan's relationship being cut short, however, I would like to remind you that Obi-Wan will always be a Jedi, with Master Jedi's connection to the Force, but thanks to Force fuckery, he is no longer a Master Jedi. You really think that isn't going to have consequences? In case you didn't catch it, this isn't an easy fix-it :D

Chapter 6 - A Child's Question

Obi-Wan appreciated the hot the shower, the hot soup, and the dry clothes he was given. Although, he was too wrung to be very good at conversation.

He wasn't sure when it was decided among the unit of Mandalorians, but Obi-Wan ended up with Jango Fett. In his mid-to-late twenties, Jango looked exactly like the clones. It was a bit surreal boarding Jango's ship -that was currently named Salvation- and being given a bunk across from Jango's.

Obi-Wan was asleep before Jango had finished tucking him in.

He fell into dreams.

He was hungry, always hungry, but it was rude to ask for food even his head ached from the lack of it. He knew better than to cry.

Mother hated when he cried.

She hated him.

He didn't bother even looking toward Father, Father never looked at him. Not even when he was walking with his big metal feet.

Obi-Wan knew how to be small and quiet, even when he was hungry.

But he perked up when he felt Oran. Oran was from a neighboring village. He didn't know how he knew when Oran was approaching, but did. Obi-Wan snuck out the back door and ran as fast as he was able, ignoring the people who glared and would spit at him, everyone hated him.

Maybe they were right, he was cursed.

He could do magic.

The only person who liked him was Oran, he was a 'half-pint' Mandalorian. Obi-Wan was pretty sure, Half-Pint wasn't a clan. But Oran had laughed when Obi-Wan had asked. It couldn't have been a bad thing, not if Oran smiled like that.

Obi-Wan loved Oran, they were brothers even though Oran said Obi-Wan couldn't go home with him because of his magic.

His magic was a carefully guarded secret.

Oran dropped to his knees, taking off his helmet and setting it in the grass to show Obi-Wan his smile, "Greetings, Obi'ika!"

Obi-Wan tackled the older boy in a hug.

Oran laughed as he fell back into the grass, his armed arms coming around to hold him, "Ah, ner vod'ika, how is the bravest adiik in the galaxy?"

My little brother.

Obi-Wan giggled, forgetting for a time that he was hungry and had to go back to his parents' house when the sun set.

The dream flickered, and Obi-Wan's mother was yelling at him again, for being weak, a disgrace, lazy, clumsy, and ungrateful.

Obi-Wan tried to tell her he would do better, that he would be the perfect son if she just gave him a chance, just one chance, it was all he needed.

But his mother never gave him that chance, slamming the door, leaving him locked away in the dark.

Obi-Wan wasn't like the other boys in his village, not because he had secret magical powers, but because he didn't tell his parents he loved them.

He did of course, they were his parents, his aliit but he knew his parents didn't want to hear it.

They thought love was weakness, so Obi-Wan tried his hardest to show them that he loved them, always doing his best, pushing himself to never complain, and to never cry.

But it was never enough.

"You don't love! You don't know how!"

Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi sat very still as he let his Padawan's words wash over him, giving no physical cue to how deeply those words cut him.

Anakin was young. For him the Force could be loud and oppressive and the other Padawans were as alien to him as he was to them.

Obi-Wan got to see the best of Anakin… and his worst, but Obi-Wan tried to be honoured that Anakin was comfortable enough, trusted him enough to lash out.

"Anakin, please," Obi-Wan said.

Anakin had turned his back on him, having finally fallen quiet, his Force signature a pulsating hornet's hive at the end of their bond.

Obi-Wan stood slowly, carefully reaching out his hand to offer what solace he could. He had always had an easier time showering that he loved someone than telling them.

But Anakin batted Obi-Wan's hand away, turning with such an expression of rage that Obi-Wan did flinch back.

The flinch was a mistake, a flash of guilt crossed Anakin's young face, before shutting down again behind angry lines as he exclaimed, "I hate you!"

Obi-Wan stood alone in the main room of their shared apartment, panic seizing his heart, though he couldn't explain why.

Why was his heart racing? Why couldn't he logic away this fear? Anakin was a teenager who felt isolated in this Temple that was supposed to be a refuge.

His words of anger shouldn't have hurt him as they had, shouldn't have crippled Obi-Wan, making him feel small and helpless.

Obi-Wan left the apartment, intent on practicing his lightsaber form. He was too wound up to meditate or to sleep.

He should get something to eat.

He should go to someone for help or simply to not be alone.

But he had no one to seek comfort or council from.

As much as Mace had become a friend, Obi-Wan was hyper aware that he was a council member before he was a friend. Obi-Wan was afraid to tell the Council anything that might further turn them against Anakin.

Quin was on a mission, not that Obi-Wan was sure he would have gone to him, they weren't children anymore and sometimes the lines blurred between the type of needs they afforded one another.

More than anything else, he just wanted to be held, to have someone else reaffirm Anakin's words of anger weren't who he was.

Obi-Wan wished Qui-Gon was alive but that was Obi-Wan's own fault.

As much as Obi-Wan loved his people, death and sorrow had taken away his nearest and dearest.

Even his friendship with Bant had fallen apart when Tahl had been murdered and Bant joined the MediCorps.

He didn't know how to explain that to Anakin, to explain to his Padawan that he truly was the most important person in Obi-Wan's life. Anakin saw how comfortable Obi-Wan was in the Temple, how everyone greeted Obi-Wan by name with either open friendliness or respect.

Anakin was too young to understand that Obi-Wan's questionable fame came from being Qui-Gon's Padawan who had been Dooku's Padawan. Master Dooku who was one of twenty fallen Master Jedi who had left the Order in four-thousand years.

Then, of course, Qui-Gon had become the first Jedi to die at Sith hands, Obi-Wan had become the first to kill a Sith, and once the war started, Dooku had become the first Jedi to turn Sith since the fall of Darth Bane.

As Anakin had almost literally been cut down by a Sith Lord not a week after meeting a Jedi for the first time, he didn't really get what a disaster their particular lineage was. Nor did Anakin understand that both Mace and Depa who were also of Yoda's lineage were the only two Jedi in the Temple who actively used both the Dark and Light side.

Nuisance wasn't Anakin's speciality and compounded by Obi-Wan never having been good at talking about himself or complaining, there were growing misunderstandings between them. Besides that, Obi-Wan couldn't help but feel that all of his own trials were minor compared to what Anakin had endured in his short life.

Obi-Wan shoved aside his own self pitying, tried to shake off Anakin's words as he practised his katas until his muscles screamed, sweat soaked his robes.

But he kept practising. Soresu was about endurance, about never surrendering, never giving up defending what he loved and stood for.

Anakin might not confide the reasons behind his pain to Obi-Wan, but Obi-Wan swore that he would never give up on Anakin.

Never.

He would never stop trying to be the best Master he could be. A tall order when Anakin at fourteen was already double Obi-Wan's weight class when it came to Force potential. It meant Obi-Wan had to go above and beyond his limits.

He wouldn't disappoint his little brother, he wouldn't hold him back. And perhaps, one day, Anakin wouldn't lash out but actually confide in him.

To be Jedi Master and brother was a hard line to walk, but no matter what challenges and arguments, Obi-Wan would always be on Anakin's side.

Always love him.

"I HATE YOU!"

Obi-Wan woke with a start, then began to choke on the smell and taste of burning flesh on the back of his tongue as the nightmare faded, leaving him sweating and afraid of nothing he could recall.

Master Ali-Alann came to his side, his strong arms pulling Obi-Wan into a safe embrace.

Obi-Wan sank into him, clinging to the older man's strength, breathing him in as the phantom smell of charred meat dissipated.

Only it wasn't Ali-Alann's smell of lavender soap and cinnamon tea, nor were the words he spoke accented Courcanti that Quin teased him about matching so completely.

The words were Mando'a and a part of Obi-Wan feared and a deeper part of him eased.

His parents had made him fear his homeworld but Oran had made him miss pieces of it. The smell of blaster grease and the earthy scent of blacks brought back dim memories of Oran and of Cody and his troops.

Only all three of his elders were long dead and long gone. His parents had been murdered, his mother had tortured and killed Oran for saving him.

But Obi-Wan was so tired, and he felt so small. If someone attacked him now, he wouldn't have been able to fight. And he didn't want to fight, he wanted to be held.

The man shifted them, laying them both down, arranging Obi-Wan so he was laying across the man's front, his ear resting over the steady thud of his heart.

The slow heartbeat, relaxed Obi-Wan as the Mando brought the covers up over them. Without conscious thought Obi-Wan fell back to sleep, following the sound of the steady thud, thud that kept the nightmares at bay.


Feemor hadn't reported to the Temple until he was landing, handing the baby off to a healer before searching for Mace.

Regrettably, Mace was in a Council Meeting, and Feemor snagged an unsuspecting passing Padawan in the hall and volunteered them to request Mace meet Feemor outside of the Council room.

Feemor paced back and before the large windows, his own heart was broken, the guilt making it near impossible to breathe, but he owed it to Mace to tell him in person.

He owed the same to Padawan Quinlan Vos.

Mace strode down the hall a few agonizing minutes later, and his first words were, "What went wrong? Weren't you able to retrieve the baby? You should be giving your report to the entirety of the Council."

Feemor nodded, "The baby will be fine, she is with the healers."

Mace paused, noting the glaring absence. "Where is Obi-Wan?

Feemor's throat constricted.

"Feemor, what happened?"

He could only shake his head.

"Is he alright?" Mace asked, voice so low, he almost couldn't hear it.

Though it didn't matter, the real question was; Is he alive?

Feemor found his voice, "There was a bombing, Obi-Wan was in the heart of it. The entire village was destroyed and swept away."

Mace said nothing, standing perfectly still.

It made Feemor feel worse than if he had raged.

"I'm so sorry," Feemor said, "I didn't know, it was supposed to be safe-"

He had never seen Mace cry before. The Korunnai Master stepped back and around Feemor.

"Mace-" he called, but Mace held up hand in negation without looking back as he walked.

Feemor felt lost.

Mace had been going to take on another Padawan, and because of Feemor, the Order had lost one of their brightest lights and Mace had lost a child.

Feemor wasn't sure how long he had been standing there, but a hand touched his shoulder. He whirled and he felt all composure fall away.

Qui-Gon cupped a hand over Feemor's cheek and he spoke as gently as he had ever heard his Master speak, "Padawan mine, what has happened?"

"Where did Mace depart to?" Dooku, who was standing a step or two back from Qui-Gon, asked.

Tears spilled over as he confessed his failing, "It was my fault, I should have kept him with me. He would have survived."

Qui-Gon's brows scrunched, then understanding filled his deep blue eyes. He pulled Feemor into an embrace, his voice rough, "He's with the Force."

Feemor broke, falling apart as he clung to his Master.

His first Master had died in front of him, and Feemor had always believed that would be the worst thing he would ever experience. But he had been wrong, because losing a youngling under his protection was far, far worse.

"It's my fault, he's dead, and it's my fault," Feemor said into Qui-Gon's shoulder.

Qui-Gon held him tighter, "You did not kill him, Padawan. There will always be things beyond our control."

Feemor let out a sob as Qui-Gon reopened the old bond between. He felt Qui-Gon's grief at Obi-Wan's loss, felt his sorrow that came with seeing his Padawan in pain.

Sometimes Qui-Gon's care was so all encompassing, when his Master pulled back it felt as if he had done something wrong. But feeling how much Feemor still meant to his Master… he was anchored while the hurricane raged around him.

Dooku put hand on Feemor's head, "I will tell Padawan Vos."

Feemor tried to pull back from Qui-Gon, "No, I should be the one-"

Qui-Gon hushed him, and Master Dooku said again, "I will tell Padawan Vos, however you may feel, Master Feemor, this was not your fault. We all agreed to it, we all believed it safe; we were wrong."

Feemor clung to Qui-Gon wishing that it had been him and not Obi-Wan who had paid for that mistake.


Quin knew something was wrong, he knew it before he entered his suite and Masters Dooku and Tholme turned twin expressions of grim mourning to him.

"No," Quin said.

Master Tholme stepped forward, his green eyes darker than Quin had ever seen him, "Quinlan, Obi-Wan-"

Quin stepped away from him, "Where is he? Where is he!?"

"He perished in a bombing on Stewjon."

"LIAR!" Quin bellowed, hands fisting, the teacups on the table rattling.

Master Dooku went on, unflinching, "It was a terrorist attack, unforeseeable, the entire village was destroyed."

"No," Quin said, fighting back tears. "No, Obi-Wan promised. He promised!"

"Quinlan…" Master Tholme said, kneeling before him without trying to touch him.

Quin threw his arms around the bigger man and couldn't stop himself from saying once more, "He promised."


Mace sat, legs hanging over the ledge where Obi-Wan and he had meditated a morning away.

Obi-Wan's death had not been publicized, but every Initiate, Padawan, Knight, and Master stationed on Coruscant wedged themselves into the sanctum.

They had no body, save for the old lightsaber Obi-Wan had partially bonded with and left behind.

The lightsaber wouldn't have helped him, and kyber seemed ready to move on, its light burned white golden light from the kiln, shooting into the air above them all. When light extinguished, Padawan Quinlan Vos had broken free from his Master's hold and had been the first to depart.

Mace was deep in his own thoughts but was not surprised when Yoda found him, grunting softly as he sat beside Mace hanging his clawed feet over the edge.

"Why did you not take him as your own?" Mace asked.

"Hmmm… a bright star, Obi-Wan. But eager to please was he, always pushing himself, he was. Not a good match. No, my padawans disagree with me must they, follow their own path."

Mace frowned, he and Yoda had disagreed on much over the years, but had never had the impression Yoda enjoyed being argued with.

Yoda must have caught the train of his thought because he sighed heavily as if his age had suddenly caught up with. "How teach one to disagree with you, hmm? Many mistakes made have I, mistakes spare others I wish to. Rebel without reason, no. To be contrary because of conceit, no. Teach those thing, can I. But how teach I, to argue? Wise I am, but infallible, no. Wise, tell one and wise believe will they, but without knowing why, useless it becomes. You and Dooku, learn you did, but not by knowing me wise. Every limit, test did you, proud am I."

Mace took in a long breath, then let it out, "Are you telling me that this has all been a test, that in making me the speaker, you wanted me to turn over the Council?"

Yoda chuckled, "Want this? Hmm... Know best, I do not. But know you, I do. Question with reason, you did. My arguments, challenge you did. Command you to argue with me, never have I. Doubted, always, your own wisdom, good this is, if still act can you. Change the Council, have you, change the Order will you. Good change, not to break tradition, but with reason, with the Force, this I commend. Proud of you, I am."

Mace stared at the sunrise. In some ways amused that Yoda's ultimate standard for his students was for them to be wiser than he was. But at the present, all amusement was short-lived. "It was Obi-Wan, not me."

Yoda hmmed, "A star he was, darker the sky without him it is. But with us, he remains, within the Force, all remain. Inspire you, still can he."

Mace swallowed hard before admitting, "I had planned to ask him to be my next Padawan."

Yoda laid a clawed hand on his knee and Mace looked down into those sorrowful green eyes and asked a child's question; "How can this have been what the Force wanted?"

Yoda let out another long sigh and Mace's shoulders eased as Yoda opened the bond between, sharing the long endurance of death he had acquired in his eight-hundred years of life.

His words were both those of a Master and a guardian to a youngling. Yoda was beloved by the young because he had a way of answering questions with both comfort and honesty. "Listen to the Force we do, though few we are, yet listen to many does the Force."

Mace's jaw tightened and his voice was deeper when he said, "Obi-Wan suggested the Order should invest in another Corp. The Senate has tasked the Order in keeping the Republic safe without the resources to do so." He continued before Yoda could counter him, "Our numbers are small, but there are many non-Force sensitives who serve in the Temple, and many more who serve in the Corps."

Yoda canted his head to the side, "Before, militant has the Order been, a dark path, it is."

Mace wasn't in the mood today to look away from dark truths, "If the Republic goes to war tomorrow, who will be tasked with dealing with it? We raise our younglings on Coruscant to combat the darkness here, yet what materially have we done for the Corusanti people? The beings who live without starlight beneath our feet? The Senate grows more ridiculous by the day. We follow their commands as a check on our power, on our greed, so we don't become a pale impersonation of the Sith, but where is their check, Master? If we see evil and allow it to continue unhindered, are we not complicit?"

Yoda smiled, "Plan you have."

"It's Obi-Wan's plan," Mace retorted.

"With us," Yoda said, gently and Mace heard the remorse in Force and across their bond as his voice broke over the last two words, "he remains."

Mace placed a hand over Yoda's and they sat in silence together as Mace began to unravel in his memories all that Yoda had ever taught him, separating those from the false things he had assumed in thinking that his Master wished obedience from him.

Yoda had never asked for obedience, he had given Mace every responsibility, all of the Orders traditions, all of the wisdom he could possibly offer, so that Mace would know what mistakes had been made in the past.

So that he would be able to forge a new path, a better way.

Those who did not know their history were fated to repeat it, those who did not acknowledge their own weaknesses were doomed to fall to them.

Those who did not know the bounds of their own limitations could never hope to surpass them.

And Mace had every hope in the galaxy.


AN: Thoughts, reactions, and feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan's birth clan joined Death Watch, but his parents were basically like, 'I agree with the Watch but I'm too old and too pissy to take orders from a new faction.' Having a baby in retirement was seriously not a part of their plans.

A lot of the themes I write about come from the pain I see in my communities. I had a student this year who shared her family being ripped apart and being taken from her home, forced to live with blood relatives who didn't want her, making her feel like a burden for existing. It really breaks my heart how many people feel unloved in their lives. In fantasy we can face our worst fears and murder them, honoury survival, bravery, and hope that we can become the best versions of ourselves and that by raising others up, we can change the world, or galaxy ;)


To all the reader's who hated Oran's father, Firre, for being an a-hole, he's dead now. He flew toward the village, which is why Obi-Wan tried pulling him down too. Firre went back because his wife was there, she's dead too. It wasn't a logical reaction, but I think Firre made it clear he doesn't have a healthy relation with his emotions, though considering how and why his son was murdered, Firre had legitimate reasons for the type of bitter man he became.

If Obi-Wan hadn't been pushed into the river he would have died.

REMINDER: Everyone is thinking and speaking in Mando'a.

KEYnote: This chapter overlaps date wise a bit with last one.

Chapter 7 - What's in a Name?

Jango Fett woke up surrounded by warmth. He kept still, not because he thought he was in danger, simply trying to identify why he felt, for a lack of a better description, cozy. He kept his ship at minimum heat, his blacks regulating his temperature well enough.

As Jango blinked awake, he realized he was wrapped around the main source of the warmth.

Which was when he remembered the Stewjoni foundling. Jango let out a breath, shifting to get out of the covers. But the moment he moved, the child shifted to follow him, tucking himself back into Jango's side.

He huffed, carding his fingers through the boy's fussy hair, he must have just received a haircut as the soft hair was even despite how it spiked upward. The boy was small, too small for an eleven year old.

But he was brave.

The way he had defended his own name…

Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Jango had never met a Kenobi, it was an ancient name, it was a cursed name. Nowhere having a second meaning; no future.

No one.

No life.

The use of that name was an ancient tradition that had fallen out of practice. Stillborns and sickly children were buried with it, their families and clans dignifying a life lost with a name, but too ashamed to give them their own. It came from a tradition where only warrior children were honoured, wanted. The weak were culled and might made right.

Traditions of adoption came from that sinful reality. Fighting for youths that could supplement clans because so many children couldn't keep up with the demands of training. Well, that and the high mortality of parents who were either fighting in wars or caught in the crossfire.

It wasn't the aspect of Mandalorian history Jango was particularly proud of though his buir had raised him to never shy away from history.

The galaxy was a cruel place, you either accepted that and worked with it or it would eventually kill you.

Jango sighed, pulling himself out of bed.

Obi-Wan made a protesting sound, but Jango gently tucked him back in, grabbing the blanket off his own bunk to make up for some of the lost warmth. Obi-Wan curled into a ball, but settled in to sleeping a little longer, his face peaceful.

Jango smiled, he didn't think he would have adopted a child in his twenties, but he supposed Jaster had been about his age when he adopted Jango.

Although, the adoption of this little Stewjoni wasn't formalized yet, one, because Obi-Wan had yet to agree to it, and two, Jango was a bit suspicious.

Obi-Wan had used his name without an introduction. He supposed it was possible one of his clan members had used his name even if Jango himself could not recall it.

Quietly and quickly, Jango strapped on his beskar, leaving his helmet behind. He went to the kitchenette to reheat soup, it wasn't the ideal breakfast food, but he wanted to make sure Obi-Wan was getting warm fluids.

The boy had almost drowned after all.

"Good morning."

Jango jumped, spinning to find the small boy rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

Kriff the boy was quiet.

"Morning, Obi'ika," Jango said, motioning for him to take a seat at the booth table.

Obi-Wan slid into the booth and thanked him as Jango placed the bowl of soup in front of him.

Good, the boy had manners.

"Have you ever been to Mandalore proper?" Jango asked.

Obi-Wan nodded in answer, but focused on his soup, clearly still tired and grieving. Which was to be expected. Last night, Jango had found him tossing and turning. He had managed to kick off his blankets and had been sweating as he battled with nightmares.

It hurt Jango's heart, and he had simply pulled the boy into his arms to lay down with him. It had worked, but Jango was at a loss as to what to say now to make him feel better.

He tried, "Do you know who the current Mandalore is?"

Obi-Wan frowned, his brows pinching together, and he looked up at Jango with grey eyes, "Jaster Mereel?"

He sounded uncertain but Jango nodded, "Yes, and he's my buir. You will meet him today."

Obi-Wan smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes and he didn't sound like a child when he said, "I'm honoured."

Jango smothered a frown and awkward silence filled the space between them. Maybe he wasn't cut out for this.

"Can I get you anything else?" Jango asked.

Obi-Wan bit his lip, fiddling with the spoon in his empty bowl.

"Speak, Obi'ika," Jango commanded.

Obi-Wan sighed, again, watching Jango with careful grey eyes, "Do you have any tea?"

"Tea?" Jango repeated, a bit disgusted, the child was only eleven!

It was an on going feud within their clan which was better tea or caf. Caf won by a long shot but there had been a growing conversion and weirdos like Maas who enjoyed both.

Despicable.

Obi'ika ducked his head, "Never mind, I'm sorry-"

Jango shook his head, "Don't apologize." He stood collecting the bowls, "Maas's father, Agni, is a big tea drinker, we all have tea in stock. The man is a menace without it. He won't drink caf."

I'm just shocked an adiik likes the stuff. And I don't want him siding with Agni of all people on day two.

"How big is your clan?" Obi-Wan asked as he settled in.

"The True Mandalorians is an organization, a few hundred members and many thousands who sympathize with us. But our clan consists of twenty members. Myles, Chakraborty, and Maas you met last night. Jaster Mareel, of course. Chakraborty has three little sisters, little devils, frankly. Agni and his wife, Hallas. Sinna, she's a spitfire in her late teens. I think you'll like Micah, he's closer to Sinna's age than yours but I haven't met anyone who can't get along with him. He's deaf but he has quite the sense of humour. The rest are bounty hunters, like myself, who rarely come back to this system, they work in the Outer Rim, unlike me, almost exclusively. Free spirits the lot of them."

He hoped the boy would open up if he did.

"Are you at war with the Watch or do they just attack randomly?" Obi-Wan asked too seriously.

Janga grimaced, "I'm sure you've heard the Duke's line was wiped out this year, thanks to Death Watch. The Vizsla clan is vying for that. Our clan is standing between them and the throne as we try to get some sort of vote organized. We are allied with the Kryzes and several others, but I wouldn't say things have been going smoothly."

"Mandalore is at war," Obi-Wan said dully as Jango heated up the water.

Jango huffed a laugh, "Only a Stewjoni would be surprised by that. There have been a number of skirmages, terrorist attacks like the one you survived. Yes, it is building, exculating, I wouldn't call it full out war."

"Yet," Obi'ika grossed.

Jango chuckled, "You'll get along with Jas just fine."

"Jas?"

"Jaster, he has more nicknames than anyone save for the legend himself knows."

Obi'ika nodded.

Jango brewed the tea, "I don't have any sugar or creams."

"I like it black."

Jango refrained from remarking on that. He set the hot mug in front of Obi-Wan who immediately clung to it as if it was the only hand hold in a turbulent sea.

He put a hand on the ad'ika's shoulder, "You're not alone, Obi'ika."

Stormy eyes looked up at him and Jango had rarely seen anyone look so completely lost.


Darth Plagueis refrained from growling, just barely.

The Jedi Council had flipped over night.

Yoda had retired.

Everything, absolutely everything was being ruined.

Mace Windu had even applied for the Coruscant Senator seat, and the votes were flooding in direction, the free advertisement came from it being the first time in a thousand years a Jedi had applied for a public office. Free, which meant the Master Jedi could run with literally no funding.

Typically, this would spell disaster for the Jedi, but Plagueis had been keeping tabs on the Order for decades, Mace Windu was one of the ones that wouldn't be corruptible. Perhaps misled but never corrupt.

Aside from the Chancellor, the Coruscanti Senatorial seat was on of the most powerful in the Republic, mainly, because the Senator also acted as governor of the city, the entire city, which amounted to the entire planet down to its core.

The Jedi would have complete unhindered access to travel and trade logs, the policing, any protests being held.

If the Jedi wished to put a wrench into the works corruption, this would be the first step. And there was little Republic, no one had the right to complain the Jedi were getting involved when the Jedi lived on the planet and they had been more and more involved in politics thanks to Sith manipulations.

Running for public office through a democratic vote was more of an issue for the Order's silly self-imposed rules, not anything against Republic law.

Darth Sidious hissed, "Who are Sephjet Josall and Roth-Del Masona?"

"Two Master Jedi who have served most of their terms alongside and for the Jedi Corps," Plagueis answered, angered because that wasn't information he had known, he had to research them because he had never heard of them before.

In addition to the two unremarkable Master Jedi, they had appointed three Junior Knights, Kit Fisto, Adi Gallia, and Shaak Ti. Those three he had at least heard of, but Plagueis hadn't imagined they would be players for another decade at least.

Sifo-Dyas, Dooku, Jocasta Nu were three formable Masters that Plagueis had an in with. They had been easy to manipulate, however, if they were taken seriously as they were now the elders on the Council, their belief that the Sith line of Bane had continued could turn from an assist to a serious problem.

And then there were the three actual problems, Mace Windu, Depa Billaba and Qui-Gon Kriffing Jinn.

"Master, how much of our plans does this change?" Sidious asked.

Darth Plagueis let out a long sigh before he answered, "All of it. This changes everything."

Worse, with only the two of them, there was little they could do without leaving a trail back to them.

It seemed the search for immortality was the only clear path forward.


Because this was Mandalore, Obi-Wan had been on the planet for exactly five minutes before something blew up.

Not at war my sheb! He thought as he looked for a weapon.

"Get back in the ship, Obi'ika!" Jango called to him before darting into the facility.

Obi-Wan did dart back into the ship, but he didn't stay there.

He found a sniper rifle that was almost taller than he was. Darting back out into the hanger, he took stock of his surroundings. A warehouse building in a shipyard.

"Get back to the ship, farm boy!" Myles yelled at him, spotting him as crouched behind a barrier.

Of course, in shouting out to him, the di'kut had given away Obi-Wan's location. He dropped to a knee, sighting down the line of the rifle just as Qui-Gon had taught him. Obi-Wan learned to shoot a blaster on Melida/Daan, but sniping was a different skill, one Obi-Wan had mastered on this very planet.

A barren world of smoke, fire, and blood.

Sniping was essential, in Obi-Wan's opinion, when it came to fighting Mandalorians who wore armour that defended against everything but bombs.

He was thankful for all the sparing he had down with Quin over the last two months. He might not be great at his katas, but he had adjusted for the most part with his hand to eye coordination.

He took out the one terrorist who had been aiming at him with a bolt to the armpit he offered up while aiming at him in turn. Obi-Wan pulled the trigger faster and his aim was more accurate. The Watch member's last shot went wide as he fell and Obi-Wan didn't fight the kickback that jerked him as he looked to the next warrior who was jumping over the burrior to get a clear shot at Myles. Myles who had yet to move who was presumably still gaping at Obi-Wan from under his helmet.

Obi-Wan pulled the trigger twice, the first low toward the thigh gap, and the second shot he anticipated the kick back, allowing the rifle to rise, he merely lined the path with where the warrior's neck was revealed as he collapsed over the pain in his leg.

Sufiicit it to say, the man didn't live long enough to worry overly much about his groin.

He fell lifeless beside Myles who jerked back in surprise.

Their deaths made a faint impression in the Force Obi-Wan was all too familiar with.

"I'm not a farmer!" Obi-Wan called, before sprinting toward the wall Jango had gone to.

Obi-Wan was careful not to use the Force to aid him. Slowing himself down to strap the rifle over his back and climb rather than jumping into the empty vent no adult human, least of all an armoured one, could fit through. He crawled through air vents, allowing his shields to open so he could find Jango.

Jango, who had the Force about, fated to play a part in whatever future the Force had planned, be it dark and light.

Obi-Wan found him in a stand off against thirty other warriors and about fifty droids.

There were twelve Mandos in his view that were on their side. Considering one of them was Jango Fett and another, a large man who was signing orders, was likely Jaster Mereel, those weren't bad odds.

Seriously though, how did this not constitute a war?

Obi-Wan climbed the ceiling rafters, found a main support beam that had some cover on almost all sides and was thick enough to withstand blaster bolts and laid down on his stomach.

Mandalorian armour made for annoying targets. He kept his shots infrequent, making it harder for anyone to locate him, all too aware of small missiles.

Speaking of which, Obi-Wan saw someone hold out his arm toward Jango.

Obi-Wan shot the enemy Mando in the head.

The beskar prevented that from being a death blow, but rifles had more impact than a hand held blaster. The warrior he hit staggered.

Jango stepped in close, put his blaster under the concussed man's chin and fired.

From there, the True Mandalorians were clearly on the winning side. Obi-Wan began firing with more frequency at the droids. He ran out of charge midway through the skirmish, and Obi-Wan pulled one of the charges he had put on his beltt.

Qui-Gon hadn't taught him that, it's something he picked up from Cody.

Cody basically went into all battles with a constant stream of pinpointed fire, using Obi-Wan as a lightsaber shield. It had made for a good partnership.

One of the Watch finally spotted Obi-Wan and chucked a grenade at him.

Ordinarily, Obi-Wan would have laughed at that, grenades had a face value of being useful against Jedi seeing as a lightsaber was ill defense any type of thing that exploded, but hand grenades were the size of stones and radiated in the Force with loud and glaring potential energy.

One could kill a Jedi with a handheld bomb, sure. Bring the building down on their heads, shrapnel and fire if they didn't act on the advance warning soon enough, however, it was never a 'surprise' attack.

Much like throwing a screaming turtleduck at a normal person, it was slow, loud, and really hard to miss.

But Obi-Wan didn't need a Force push when he had a rifle. Especially this delightful rifle that was far more expensive and well built than anything they had in the GAR.

It generally took a lot to impress Obi-Wan, something he had never shared with his troops when they got the mass factory built models that had cheap materials and never lasted long no matter how any of the vod'e kept them cared for.

Obi-Wan had actually bought upgraded parts with what savings he had from his alliances to upgrade Cody's and Rex's rifles.

Obi-Wan had done it while they were sleeping and he was pretty sure they accounted the new parts to Anakin's hibatul habit of tinkering.

To be fair, Anakin had restored and salavged a number of weapons, but thanks to Obi-Wan's promotions he could afford parts Anakin couldn't.

Obi-Wan had never cared about money until he saw the plostriod armour the clones wore.

Obi-Wan had cared then, because their lives had been dictated by it and the Order that worked on charity and the scraps of the Senate's budget had had no capital or political power to help them, save for entering the war themselves to prevent the clones for being further brutalized by Corrillian scum that seemed to breed apathy in conflict in their academies.

Obi-Wan was drawn from his thoughts from the shot he fired.

Hand grenade plus rifle bolt created a spectacle explosion, one that had the warriors below taking cover. Obi-Wan took the time to hit the still targets as the battle droids recalibrated, far less sophisticated than the separatists models. Which was truly a pathetic bar to cross, and there were no droids left when the True Mandalorians rallied.

Obi-Wan began working his way back the way he had come, focusing on stealth and not using the Force to skip over the distances.

Death Watch tended to get desperate when they were losing and he didn't want to be near the ceiling if they pulled a classic 'bomb your way out.'

Again, he marveled at being able to fit through the vents.

The hanger was clear save for broken droids and dead bodies. Obi-Wan was too accustomed to war to stop himself from checking with the Force.

It was safe, which was good because his shoulders ached as if they had been repeatedly bludgeoned with a metal fist, which he supposed, in a way they had been.

His hands felt bruised, but he had enough callouses from lightsaber practice to keep from any blisters forming.

He felt tired, his endurance not what he was used to. Of course, he had almost drowned yesterday. His body was not happy of its recent treatment he had put it through.

Once he was back on Jango's ship, he went to the kitchenette and made himself a cup of tea as he waited for the 'adults.'

He didn't dare meditate, but he did acknowledge the lives he had taken today, grateful that on that list wasn't his men.

Weren't his men that had been enslaved by the Republic and as trapped in the war as the Jedi were.

It made things easier, and a small part of him that he wasn't ready to look at too hard, was pleased at the damage he'd done.

He had been born for war; and he was good at it.


Jango did a head count, they hadn't lost anyone, they hadn't even sustained any major injuries.

But Jango did the headcount thrice and came up short.

His buir was the one to voice it though as he did the mental math, "Who was our sniper?"

"The foundling," Myrles said.

Jango spun on him, "He was supposed to stay on the ship!"

Maas laughed, "Your ad is no good at taking orders, but he has one hell of an aim."

Jango cursed, he couldn't deny the help had ended the fight far earlier than expected, but the boy was eleven years old.

"Foundling?" Jaster asked.

"Jango claimed him," Maas informed the head of their clan.

Jango couldn't properly glare through his visor, but Maas seemed to get the message because he shut his trap.

Myles powered his jetpack, and called back down, "He went back through the vents."

"Vents?" Jaster asked, "How young is this kid?"

"Eleven," Chakraborty said, "a small eleven."

Jango motioned them to follow as they made it back to the hanger and Jaster kept pace with him.

"Where did you find a sniper foundling?" Agni asked from behind him.

"Stewjon, the sole survivor from yesterday's attack," Jango answered.

"If he is from one of the Death Watch clans," Jaster remarked, "he won't be aligned with them anymore after that betrayal."

Jango sighed, "His past is complicated from what little I understand, but he lost everything. An older brother who seems to be his only true kin."

Jaster nodded mutely.

The hangar was clear.

"Obi'ika!" Jango called as they walked onto the ship.

"Obi?" Agni and Jaster asked together.

"Here!" a young voice called.

The boy's Mando'a was formal, more formal than he would expect from a Stewjoni, but the accent was odd enough to make him believe he had learned from reading books rather than his guardians who apparently had despised him since birth.

They found the ad'ika in the kitchenette, Jango's second favourite rifle on the table that appeared bigger than his ad'ika and a cup of tea in his hand.

Agni took off his helmet, his silver hair falling to his shoulders, his dark eyes sparkling, "Ha! A tea drinker! Welcome to the clan, ad'ika. The tea tally pulls ahead."

"You can't say the people who like both count on your side and not ours," Myles argued.

Jango sighed, taking off his own helmet along with the others who had followed on board, Maas, Myles, and Chakraborty.

Jaster's found smile died on introduction.

"Buir," Jango began, "this is Obi-Wan Kenobi-"

"What?" Jaster spat before demanding of the foundling, "Who the hell named you that?"

Obi'ika raised a brow, his grey eyes darkened to the shade of durasteel. He sipped his tea in a distinctly non-childish manner before he answered politely, "My parents."

Maas and Myles choked as they attempted to stifle their laughter.

Buir wasn't exactly known for his warm personality and sense of humour, and it was all Jango could do to keep from snapping at Obi-Wan for being disrespectful, but this moment was between the Mando'alor and the new clansman entering their line.

"You need a new one," Jaster stated.

"No," Obi-Wan said and Jango couldn't read him. Where does an adiik his age learn a sabacc face like that?He didn't even seem unsettled as he met Jaster's gaze.

"Do you know what it means?" Jaster pressed.

"I know it means people will underestimate me," Obi-Wan said then added, "Also, it's unique."

"Yeah," Myles muttered, "for the living."

Agni swatted the brunette upside the back of his head.

Jaster glared down at the child.

Obi'ika took the quiet moment to take another sip from his tea, completely unbothered by a look that would have had most fully seasoned warriors quaking in their boots.

Jaster crossed his arms, looming over the table, the rifle between them.

Jango noted one of the charges was plugged into his specialized generator he kept in each room of his ship. Which told him his ad'ika wasn't just familiar weapons but intelligent.

But then he had already known that when he realized who the sniper had to have been. He position he haf chosen of taking a shielded higher ground and the way he had spaced the bolts so it didn't draw a straight line to him. Most would have assumed they were covered by the chaos of an open battle. Even where he had aimed, and finally, while he hadn't listened to stay with the ship, he left when he was no longer needed and backed away from any possible traps.

Yes, his ad'ika was a clever one.

They all waited for either Jaster or Obi-Wan to break the moment.

But Jaster was as stubborn as they came as he continued to glare down at the foundling until it was somewhat absurd.

Obi'ika didn't break. He went so far as to finish his tea. He left the empty mug on the table and pulled up his legs. Hugging himself, he rested his chin on his knees, looking up at Jaster with stormy eyes and a peaceful expression.

Jango decided right then and there that whatever his reservations, whatever Obi'ika's past, the foundling was his son. Obi-Wan had earned his place here, helping without being asked and showing unwarranted bravery.

While it would be interesting to see who was more stubborn, Jango was pretty sure Obi'ika was not a long way from falling asleep. Even if he wasn't, Jango was responsible for his health and this was enough excitement for the day.

"Where did you learn to use a rifle like that?" Jango asked, freeing Jaster from his childish standoff.

"I told you," Obi'ika said, "I've been to Mandalore proper before."

"And who were you shooting before now?" Jaster asked.

Obi'ika stared up at him, then shrugged, Jango caught the wince of pain that gesture caused him. "I don't know, I was younger than I am now."

Jango grimaced, they trained their children early, but that was different than forcing them to participate in the wars. Eleven was young, anything before that was criminal.

Sometimes, it wasn't an option to keep them safe, but as his name was Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jango wasn't siding with the idea that he'd hadn't had a happy childhood where his guardians kept him shelteted.

Jaster let out a breath, "Fair enough."

That young, Obi'ika's kills were not on his head. By their laws, he was considered a weapon not a warrior, no matter how true the latter might be.

"How hurt are you?" Jango asked, stepping closer to him.

"I'm okay," Obi-Wan shuffled to the side, giving him room to sit.

Jango took the offered seat, pleased that Obi'ika would let him treat his injuries.

"That weapon is as big as you are," Jango said as he reached for his collar, but he stilled when Obi'ika tensed, glancing up at the other men staring down at him.

Jango got the message, Obi'ika was okay with him checking him over, but not for an audience. Jango brushed his fingers through the child's hair and some of the tension eased from him.

Jango asked him, "Obi'ika would you like to stay with me, us, or would you like to find another home?"

The expression the child wore was both too old and too vulnerable. "I would like to stay," he said quietly, his voice going softer, "please."

Jango rested his hand on the back of his ad'ika's head and lowered his own until their the foreheads touched, "Ni kyr'tayl gai sa'ad, -Obi-Wan Kenobi."

I know your name as my child, -Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Obi-Wan closed his eyes, his breath leaving him in a long exhalation as if long held.

Suddenly, Jango felt that the name fit him, this little warrior who held sorrows beyond his years.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, an ancient name that defied expectation, that defied the fate of blood.

No One from Nowhere, or One Who Needs No Name Who Belongs to No Place.

Until now, Obi'ika belonged here with them now.

"So it is done," Jaster said, "Welcome home, Obi'ika."

The others said their own words of acceptance.

Jango straighted, pulling away from his son, which allowed Obi-Wan room to bow his head to Jessie and the others.

He did so without speaking.

Another signal he was tired, or more likely, exhausted.

"Get lost," Jango told his clansmen.

Jessie let out a short burst of laughter, "I hope, Obi'ika, you have better manners than your buir, because he won't be able to teach you any."

"Go," Jango barked.

His buir, stepped toward them, bending to press his forehead to Jango's but thankfully, he stepped back not pushing Obi'ika who had tucked himself against Jango's side.

"Rest well, verd'ika," Jaster bestowed to his bu'ad, his grandson. Signing to the others to leave with him.

Jaster hit the close to the hatch as he left.

"Let me see your shoulders," Jango said, tugging at the collar, as the shirt was his, therefore, it was several sizes too big. Jango was able to see the bruising already beginning to show on his pale skin. There was no skin breakage however.

Jango made to stand up, "I have some cold compresses."

But Obi'ika caught his hand before he could step away, "Vor entye."

Jango felt his expression softened and he gently squeezed his fingers, "No, debt, ner ad'ika. There is no debt between us. You are aliit and you belong here."

Obi-Wan nodded, still looking strangely lost as if despite being adopted he didn't believe himself wanted.

All children should be wanted. Never mind that they had just walked away from another Death Watch trap without a single casualty or major injuries, in part, due to Obi-Wan's actions this day.

Jango reached back down for him, moving slow so he didn't startle this little warrior. Obi'ika reached up to him in answer, wrapping his small arms around Jango's neck as he lifted him and walked them back to their bunks.

"Ner verd'ika," Jango told him, his little warrior, the words were both an endearment and an earned honour.

Obi'ika finally allowed himself to relax, trusting Jango to guard him.

There was no greater honour.


Obi-Wan woke, shivering, cold, and alone.

Instinctively he reached out in the Force, then closed the connection down almost immediately as he identified the man he was sharing a room with.

Remembering a rain slick fight where it had taken everything he had not to use lethal tactics to keep up with the Mandalorian who had strangled five Jedi to death with his bare hands.

It had been a chancy game to play, trying to take him in alive. Mace hadn't taken that chance, while Obi-Wan still wished to know why the man who hated Jedi had helped make an army for them?

It wasn't a question he could hold onto at present.

His heart accelerated as he held back from realeasing his panic into the Force. It took longer than it should have for him to remember Jango acknowledging him as a son. That memory calmed him, the man had been sincere, and despite himself, Obi-Wan had felt safe in his arms even if he knew he shouldn't trust it.

The short burst of adrenaline and small panic attack left him colder, and without leaning into the Force, the room felt too dark, a blindness of senses that chafed at his very soul.

He wanted to whine, he wanted to give in and submerge himself in that familiar presence, within the oneness of the galaxy, a place where he belonged.

Where everyone belonged.

But if he couldn't stop himself from reaching for it when no one was watching, if he got hurt, and surely there would be at some point get hurt on this cursed planet, he might do something unfortunate.

His own mother had tried to kill him, even Oran hadn't dared take him back to his family even though Firre seemed to hate the Watch. Sure, instinctively Firre had saved him by pushing him into the river, but Obi-Wan had felt his inner conflict. His pain either so deep he would lash out or his hatred for Force sensitives, his fear of them, enough that he would hurt a minor.

And as a minor, Obi-Wan would have to learn to keep an iron grip on his gifts. He was small enough to make them believe that it was some physical weakness that had turned his parents against him.

But he just couldn't count on their reactions to him being Force sensitive. He was even more terrified that they would figure out his past with the Jedi.

He hoped like hell the Order had assumed he was dead, that no one was looking for him. At the very least, he knew it was unlikely his death would be publicly released, the Order did not appreciate outside speculation on their weaknesses.

The New Mandalorians had accepted Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. They had gone so far as to ask for their help in keeping Satine safe, however, the New Mandalorians were radicals whether they had been allies once with the True Mandalorians didn't matter when asking for Jetii aid was a near unprecedented action to take.

Obi-Wan held his hand over his mouth to stop himself from screaming or letting out a noise.

This was so stupid, why had he done this to himself? It was one thing to choose a life outside the Order, it was quite another to keep up this big of a lie for the rest of his natural life.

To go back to war in hiding.

Yet Quin had done it, that was the literal job description of a Shadow. But even Shadows didn't kark with the Mandalore system.

This was asinine. He should leave. Even Shadows didn't have to cut themselves off from the Force.

He cracked his shields a tad, and visions hit him.

Visions that had once been memories.

Why was he doing this? Because it seemed the fate of the galaxy depended on it. Obi-Wan lowered his hand from his face, keeping his breaths rather than gasping like a fish beached on a desert dune.

The Mandalore system was his place of birth, his heritage, his culture, he had to stop thinking of himself as an outsider. He cared about these crazy people who had more in common with the Jedi Order than they would ever accept.

He wasn't giving up on being who he was here, he was simply going to become a different version of himself, a version that in his old life he had walked away from.

Mandalore had left its mark on, on his heart and soul.

He had walked away from Satine, partially because he had fundamentally disagreed with her. They had brought Mandalore to peace at a cost that was unfathomable, though the Duchess led her people into a modern age.

But the planet had remained barren, their warriors exiled to the Concordia moon, which inevitably turned Death Watch loose on the rest of the galaxy. Obi-Wan didn't believe, no matter how hard Satine held onto her utopian ideas, that Mandalore could remain neutral.

The Force flashed another vision into his mind, of Satine's people calling for her head, of the sky falling against the horizon, into another war with entire generations who had been shielded from such violence and would be slaughtered crippled as they were.

Satine in her extremism had damned them. As teens, her passion had been a beautiful pure flame, but Obi-Wan had kept track over the years, the love he had for her had been systematically torn apart by the bitter realization of what she was doing to her people.

His people.

The Order, the Republic, and Mandalore, all three were destined for civil war, one way or another. If Obi-Wan could help the True Mandalorians triumph, if it was Jaster Mereel who sat on the throne, he would make the Mandalore system a power to be reckoned with.

Perhaps inspiring the Jedi to do likewise, perhaps pushing the Republic to invest in having a citizen fed army not a slave one.

It was the one dark truth Obi-Wan had come to realize from Qui-Gon's death at Sith hands, the Sith had forced the Jedi to adapt. Sometimes one's enemies were as important as their allies.

The thought tasted acrid on the back of his tongue, bitterness overwhelmed him and he was drowning in emotions again.

He felt like crying, his thoughts no longer matching the body he inhabited, the child he was becoming. He was no longer an adult, however mature his thought processes were, emotionally he felt…

He felt; everything felt personal, he felt unnaturally vulnerable and small, and the Force was…

The Force was wild within him, all the techniques he had mastered through years of perseverance and meditation stripped away as if he were having to learn to walk again after a spinal injury.

He knew he knew how to walk, but in order for his body and spirit to learn he needed to reteach it. Only it would be more difficult, knowing what a thing should be like and having it tauntingly out of his reach.

He felt like crying because he would have no Master to help him and no opportunity to practice, secrecy being paramount. He was lost from his people.

He tried to tell himself if he were playing Shadow with the Sith, which maybe he was considering how little they knew of the supposedly Dead Order, he would have to hide his abilities as well.

He tried telling himself that a rifle was a ranged weapon and therefore as practical to a Jedi as a lightsaber. Tried to tell himself that training to be a Mandalorian warrior without the aid of the Force would make him more than he had been. That he would be equal to any Knight in the Order because Jango Fett was every bit their equal. He tried to remind himself as dark as Mandalorian life could be, they also loved fiercely. More openly than the Jedi, true, but the principle of training their young to be warriors, in protecting them above any other objective was the Way.

It was the same for the Jedi even if the Order to an outsider's perspective seemed cold, their minimalist lifestyles its own type of vanity.

It wasn't vanity, it was valuing life. To value the Force was a practice of valuing life in all its vast variety. For the Force was created by all living things and within the Force all was one.

Obi-Wan settled a little, after reciting those mantras helped. The old philosophies that he had always fallen back on, even when he was small. He remembered those were words he had spoken in Basic. Master Ali-Alann had shown him what it meant to be loved and safe, and had been the first to show the wider reality of the Force. The Force had become his home.

Now the Force had brought him here, to this new life, to this new path. Even if the True Mandalorians weren't the Jedi, he knew that the codes they lived by were as valid as the Jedi philosophies.

Philosophies that did, and quite often, disagree with each other.

Just as Mandalore's constant identity crisis directly contrasted with the fierce and possessive love they had for their children.

And just like the Jedi, being Mandalorian went beyond blood.

Obi-Wan slipped out of bed as quietly as he was able. He had about all he could handle of his own identity crisis. He needed sleep, his body was demanding rest.

His emotions had wrung him out that he might do something seriously irrational if he kept poking at the Force and his own nightmares. Also, insomnia was not a habit he wanted to pick back up.

He needed help.

His hands fisted on the durasteel grate as he wondered how mad Jango would be if Obi-Wan woke him up?

Did he really feel so spooked, was he really so cold that he couldn't tough it out?

The Force jabbed at his head, as if threatening a headache.

Obi-Wan scowled, kriff. He had once told Anakin that sometimes the bravest thing a person could do was ask for help.

Double kriff.

Obi-Wan held still in indecision, and stubbornness, a moment longer, but he remembered the warmth of the night before, how Jango had kept the nightmares at bay. Obi-Wan longed for that, a harbor from his nightmares and his own treacherous thoughts. Finally, he figured he had risked worse and probably more stupidly dangerous things than waking up a single Mandalorian, even if he was a Jedi Killer.

Although, in this timeline Jango hadn't actually done that yet.

As it was also true that Jango had claimed him as his child. But again, having only recently learned what his birth parents had actively wished for his death and tried drowning him as a two year old, Obi-Wan wasn't exactly reassured by the familiar titles.

Obi-Wan shook himself, Jango was all he had at this moment and he needed an anchor. In reality, he would continue to need Jango.

Sneaking off to the Order would put a target on Obi-Wan's back and the True Mandalorians seeing him as a spy for the Order would reaffirm any and all of their worst assumptions about the Order's doings and beliefs. His objective was to ensure the Jedi and the True Mandalorians weren't at each other's throats.

Likewise, asking for the Order's help out right would end in complete disaster, he didn't need the slight hissing of the Force against his shields to warn him against that.

No, this was the path the Force had led him to and this path the one he had chosen. He either had to go all in or risk destroying everything he had ever fought and killed for.

Obi-Wan's eyes had adjusted to the dim ship lights and he knelt by where his new guardian rested. Obi-Wan held his breath as he laid his small hand over Jango's where it rested, fisted in the blanket. Jango jerked awake, though he made no sound, looking at Obi-Wan with just his eyes. Jango turned, reaching for him without speaking. Obi-Wan tensed even as he allowed himself to be pulled into an embrace, reminding again of how small he was and how little defense he had against this warrior.

"You alright, ner verd'ika?" Jango asked roughly.

Obi-Wan couldn't speak, his tongue stuck.

If he spoke he would cry, and he wasn't ready to show Jango that much of himself, not yet. So he just burrowed underneath the warmth of the blankets, making his intention clear.

I need to not be alone. I don't want to be cold. I feel so lost.

Jango grunted, practically rolling on top of Obi-Wan as he tucked him secularly against his side, putting Obi-Wan between himself and the wall.

It wasn't quite as comfortable as safe as sharing a bunk with Quin or being held by Master Ali-Alann, but it was safe enough.

It was strange, in the fear he had of Jango Fett, in knowing the utter lethal potential of him, Obi-Wan had absolute faith that there was next to nothing that could get past him. Obi-Wan snuggled closer until he could press his ear directly over Jango's heart. The slow steady rhythm told him it was indeed safe. He was at Jango's mercy, and though Obi-Wan could not predict what the Mando would do if he discovered Obi-Wan's secrets, until he did, he could trust in this warrior's blatant protectiveness. Just as he planned to prove his own loyalties by fighting for the True Mandalorians. Their fates were intertwined.

Obi-Wan had to trust that Jango would shelter him, he had to believe the Force was with them both, and that this path would lead the galaxy to a brighter future than the sorrow General Kenobi had slipped away from.

The Force hummed its approval, speaking to him even as he denied himself the freedom to speak openly to it in turn.


Clarification: Sorry for any confusion. Think of Obi-Wan basically trying to flip languages, but he still thinks like a Jedi, and the Force is a very loud roommate, just because Obi-Wan swears off using that language, he can still understand it. Vowing to think in a forgien language (not using the Force) is a demanding resolution that will take time before he is in any way successful.

He sees it as necessary because without having time to commit to training or a Master to help him through it, he is likely to slip up and accidentally use the Force to do an impossible jump or float some rocks ;)

He's thinking of it as an all or nothing kind of deal.

Is this a stupid idea that has every chance of blowing up in his face, of course. But what else do you expect an ad'ika to do when divinity places what feels like the fate of the galaxy on his slim shoulders?


AN: Thoughts, reactions, tuataras, or feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

TagChange: This doesn’t really come up until chapter twenty, because kids and romance is not what I’m here for. But I do want to write a lowkey romance with two same sex characters, (and yes, Obi-Wan can like gals and dudes, magic ). Before hate mailing me, remember that I am not straight, I do typically avoid this because being called unnatural and ruining my story is not what I enjoy waking up to but it’s also not fun to avoid a natural plot progression because it doesn’t suit everyone. But please don’t rant at me that it's unacceptable when homosexaul people enjoy stories with hetropairings. Nor do I need to know what your personal preferences are because I don’t know you and I’m not basing my characters off of who you are. You don’t have to match the gender and preferences of characters to sympathize with their emotions or enjoy their fictional adventures.

 

I will not be writing smut, I will not have him dating lots of people, I will not be breaking my characters to do this, nor will I write dom/sub, kink, yada, yada. Just while writing this chapter I realized Obi-Wan is going to be more open to relationships now that he is part of a community that has a larger emphasis on family connections. 

Quinlan Vos/Obi-Wan Kenobi, will be the only pairing and not until they are much older like a 60-100k words from now.


Keynote: So, again, I’m investigating both good and bad things of Mandalorian culture as I would imagine it. And that blurred lines when from the outsider’s views the actions of a single person reflect on their assumptions of the rest of the group.


Warning: Serial killer? I’m a terrible person, honestly, why does anyone read my work?

Chapter 8 - More than a Horror Story

Again, Jango woke with a bundle of radiating heat glued to his side. However, this morning he didn’t rush out of bed, seeing as getting up had woken up his ad’ika yesterday.

Considering what he had done for them, the child deserved as much sleep as he wanted.

Obi’ika hadn’t actually saved his life, but that shot had been well timed and had certainly saved him from a few bruises. 

Sniping was an excellent skill, but among Mandalore’s population it was among the least popular. 

Yes, it was an essential skill, one that Jango himself was quite successful in. But he was a bounty hunter by trade, and despite what the rest of the galaxy believed, the majority of their people were not bounty hunters and mercenaries.

Admittedly, none of them disrupted that image as it kept outsiders from karking with them.

Jango sighed quietly, he bowed his head to look at the child draped over his chest. He couldn’t stop himself from petting the soft hair, which luckily didn’t wake Obi’ika up.

It worried him that he was still having nightmares, though he wasn't surprised. Jango was also worried by how clingy Obi-Wan was.

Well, actually, there was a lot more that worried him about his new ad’ika. Obi-Wan had fought on Mandalore before? He was clearly used to killing and even familiar with destroying battle droids, which were uncommon given how expensive and clunky they were. Jango desperately wanted to know who he had been fighting and for how long. He wasn’t sure if he believed that he didn’t remember who had been fighting for.

He knew Jaster didn’t believe it.

Obi’ika was most likely lying to them, but why?

More than likely he had been a member of Death Watch, which would account for his being in active combat. 

Which would be another thing that wouldn’t endear him to Jaster, not when Obi-Wan’s aim was that good. Was it possible that Obi’ika had killed members of their clan or killed innocents?

In Jango’s mind that was more of reason to take the child in. He deserved better than to be used like that. The challenges of healing Obi’ika became ever more difficult in that scenario. He clearly wanted help, wanted an aliit, but to be ex-Death Watch... it would be difficult to get Obi’ika to trust him, and harder still to prove to him that his worth to the clan was more than as a weapon.

The latter would be harder to back up.  Having been raised by Jaster, training and doing jobs was where Jango was at his best. Additionally, Mandalore was headed toward straight war.

With the direct line of the royal family dead, now the next closests families were Tor Vizsla, the karking leader of Death Watch, and Adonai Kryze, who was an ally of the True Mandalorians, but regrettably, was not a supporter of the Supercommando Codex. Adonai wanted to blaze a new path, for something new, to let the past die and look forward and not back.

Unfortunately, what that meant, not even Adonai could articulate. He wanted new. But what that sounded like to Jango was destruction of their culture and erasing their history, the bad and the good.

Vizsla wanted to embrace all the worst aspects of their peoples’ histories, the violence, the assaults, the muardading, and the corruption.

A karking idealist and terrorists. As if anything could be worse than the Republic, Mandalore was currently trying to accomplish it.

Personally, Jango thought they should do away with any royal family, they should have the Mando’alor, that was both a military and semi-elected position, and then a Prime Minister that was purely civilian election.

Jaster wasn’t ready to play politics, he was more determined to end Death Watch. Jango argued that vying for the political position would rally people to their cause.

However, the Kryze clan was both big enough, with a large enough amount of the planet’s military falling in behind the Kryze clan, that Jaster didn’t want to throw up the line of succession completely in the fear that any Royalists would turn to Vizsla.

Jango sighed again, rubbing Obi’ika’s back as Jaster had done for him once when he had been grieving his birth family. He was concerned by Obi’ika’s need for touch, but he didn’t mind it. For Jango, it did help solidify their new relation.

Jango was a buir now. 

The thought brought a smile to face, a smile that brightened as Obi’ika began to wake. The child pressed his face into Jango’s blacks, his face pinching as his mind tried to identify him.

Obi’ika opened his grey eyes, looking up at Jango with a slight frown, “Commander Cody?”

That was the second time Obi-Wan had called him that, Cody. The military title was new though, and it confused Jango more than anything. 

The royal military were the only ones who used military designations, but Jango had made it a point to know all the higher ups, and there was no Commander that had a name anywhere close to Cody. Which made Jango doubt again Obi’ika’s background. Death Watch certainly had never used formal military ranks and Jango would eat his blaster if Obi-Wan was from Corillia.

The Corillian Academy consisted of rich and apathetic militants who rarely saw combat despite the corruption of the planet it was located on. The other Republic Academies were even more elitist. 

Maybe Obi’ika had belonged to a smaller clan, or a mere group of kids that had decided to use titles as nicknames. He had mentioned an ori’vod, an older brother.

Obi-Wan blinked rapidly, “Jango?”

He ruffled his ad's hair, “Come on, ad’ika, we have a big day ahead of us.”


Obi-Wan was nervous when Jango said they would have a big day. 

The True Mandalorian base was indeed just a big warehouse.

But it was built on old bones, not just literal ones but stone ones. The foundations of giant pillars was nothing like the artful and delicate marble work of Naboo.

No, these were the foundations of buildings that had been giant, meant to withstand any war and shelter large gatherings.

Obviously, it hadn't withstood the test of time, but it reminded Obi-Wan of the Temple all the same.

Another soft reminder that at their heart the Jedi and the Mandalorians weren't so different if governed by different limitations.

Obi-Wan certainly was in no position to defend the Jedi after the Clone Wars that dragged the entire galaxy into a civil war because of a handful of renegade Force sensitives.

On one hand, Obi-Wan understood why so many people hated and feared Force sensitives.

But even if his mother had succeeded in drowning him, he didn't think he would have wished to be other than he was. If had died as a youngling, he would have been able to embrace the Force as it embraced him.

Because ultimately, the Jedi Order was a religion, and unlike so many others, Obi-Wan knew, knew in his heart, in his mind that there was a greater purpose to life, that they did indeed come from the same place, that they were connected, and that there was something bigger out there beyond the stars, beyond death.

Life continued absolutely, he needed his faith to trust the Force, but he didn't need faith to believe.

He could feel life around him, he could feel the brush of stars, and even if he was never able to really use his gifts again, even if he died, or the Force stopped speaking to him, he would always know beyond a doubt that all life was precious, even his own.

Jango caught Obi-Wan at the elbow as he slid a bit with one of the broken stones that tumbled down the slope. Dirt and plant life had broken through what had at one point been ginormous slabs of stone. 

"You alright, ad'ika?" Jango asked.

Obi-Wan nodded, not fighting Jango taking his hand. Obi-Wan tried to remember the last time someone had really taken care of him in his old life?

Maybe Siri? But their affair had been more about physical comfort and if there had been love it had been tough love.

Of course, she had died at the start of the war, one loss in a sea of losses.

Anakin certainly never cared unless Obi-Wan was in mortal danger. Obi-Wan hadn't really figured out how to "express emotion" that didn't lead to him blowing up. Which was a natural response if someone kept needling you to feel something. If you gave Anakin an inch, he wanted everything else, even if he was unlikely to be able to handle it.

He had learned that the hard way when he had made a semi-harsh remark about Master Qui-Gon and Anakin had flown into a rage and run away from the Temple for full a week.

Anakin had been fifteen at the time and Obi-Wan had spent seven days running around the underbelly of Coruscant while Anakin laughed it up while staying in a guest wing of the Chancellor's apartment.

Obi-Wan had been more than a little concerned, for a multitude of reasons. He'd actually had a mental break, but that was neither here nor there.

With Jango holding his hand now, Obi-Wan realized the only person he hadn't cut himself off from after Qui-Gon's death, had been Cody. Which was depressing, seeing as he had only known Cody for a couple of months.

But war was like that, time didn't really function the same on battlefields. Every day could feel like a lifetime.

He looked up at Jango, that face he'd seen on a million faces, but unlike the people he met on Kamino, including Jango himself, this man was unbroken.

A free man driven by hope for his people, not revenge.

Jango offered him a small smile in return, squeezing his hand.

You're not alone, Obi'ika.

Obi-Wan didn't want to be alone, and maybe good things could come of leaving the Order behind. He would always have to be mindful of attachments, of obsessions, he was a Force sensitive after all and such temptations of over indulgence would always be there.

But that didn't mean it wasn't a line he couldn't walk. He might never take another Padawan, but that didn't mean he couldn't have children of his own one day, adopt, have a traditional marriage.

He wouldn't have to pretend he hadn't fallen in love with them for the public.

As he was now, he had literally zero desire for sexual anything, of which he was glad. Because sex had stood in for what he had always wanted from another, a partner, like Qui-Gon had Tahl. Or Plo and Roena, a female who lived a quiet life outside of the Temple, off of Coruscant, but when Plo spoke of her, it was clear that not only did he love her but they were the dearest friends.

Obi-Wan had always desired that, but for one reason or another, it had never worked out.

Jango let go of his hand, indicating they had finally arrived. They walked to the near the opposite side of the building from the hangar and down several flights of stairs, but when the doors swooshed open, Obi-Wan understood why it was worth the trouble and why they defended this as their base and had not yet found a new location.

It was a forge, enormous, with more tools than a host of smiths could hope to use all of.

Maas’s dirty face popped up from where he had been sitting.

Obi-Wan offered him a small wave.

Maas grinned, “You’re here! Come see! We worked through the night.”

With an encouraging nod from Jango, Obi-Wan approached a low stone table, the artificial lights clashing a bit with the warmth of the open fire.

Obi-Wan felt his breath go out when he saw the suit of beskar. He hardly dared to touch it, wondering how many of his troops would have burst into tears at such a gift. Obi-Wan, however... “I don't deserve this.”

“On the contrary,” Agni said moving into the light from a separate station he had been working in, “You do.”

Obi-Wan didn’t know what to say as he looked back down at the child size armour that would have to be remade or passed on as he grew.

Agni continued, “The helmet will take more time, the coms are a bit more technical. My adiik and I need some sleep before we can finish that kind of work but the rest is simply waiting on paint.”

Jango placed a hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder, "I want you to wear it. If you are going to ignore my orders and run into the line of fire, then I need you to be as safe as I can make you.”

Obi-Wan smiled as he remembered the first argument he had ever had with Cody.

"What's so funny, Obi'ika?" Jango coaxed.

Obi-Wan gave an inch, Cody didn't exist therefore speaking of him couldn’t jeopardize any of the secrets he needed to keep. "My vod, one of my vode, I should say, would have wanted me to wear this."

He's pretty sure Cody would have been able to sleep better if he had.

"You are one of us, Obi'ika," Jango told him with sincerity.

Obi-Wan looked down, more flustered than he should have been, "I'm honoured."

"It's settled then," Maas said, rubbing more soot on his face, "Now to the important part, what colours and symbols do you want?" 

An impulsive part of him wanted to say, the Jetii symbol, just to see Maas's reaction, but that would have killed the mood and have been disastrously stupid.

The beskar had already coated somehow with a matt finish, so despite the almost silver colouring, it wasn't overly reflective. 

"Orange?" Obi-Wan asked, feeling vaguely uncomfortable asking for anything more. 

“Course!” Maas said excitedly picking up a piece of semi-liquid chalk and motioning for Obi-Wan to outline the shapes he wanted. “I’ll follow your indication.

Obi-Wan swallowed, but began tracing his fingers across the sternum and with the sunrise Cody had painted on his, then he traced a band on each thigh that began  just below the hip and wrapped downward just above the knee. 

Obi-Wan didn't ask for the shoulders or knees to be painted, this, after all, was his armour, not Cody's. And if any symbol went on his arm, it would be the Order's wings or nothing at all.

It took about a half an hour for Maas to paint the armour and for it to set. Obi-Wan listened to Jango speak to Agni about the upgrades to the helmet he wanted in included.

“Done!” Maas exclaimed and Obi-Wan’s heart hurt at seeing Cody’s sigils. Would the clones even be born? Likely not, that was both a mercy and tragedy. Still, Obi-Wan felt that Cody would have liked to be remembered, and Obi-Wan never wanted to forget them, even if all his memories faded from reach.

Jango helped dress him, which was a bit embarrassing until he realized how many buckles were on these things.

Stars, no wonder they never lost armour.

Despite how heavy it was, the weight of it was comfortable and comforting.

Having grown up being told that Lightsabers could and would cut through anything, like skin, bones, floors, ships, and much more, wearing something that actually protected numerous vitals was… kind of empowering.

Suited up, Obi-Wan did feel less out of place as followed at Jango’s side through the massive warehouse.

The room they were brought to was a giant auditorium that had tables set up, where people were enjoying an early second meal.

Obi-Wan noted Jaster Mereel sitting in the back of the room with a number of halos and flimsies set before him.

Obi-Wan really doubted Jango had as much paperwork as the GAR had, but he still respected the Mand’alor better for doing his due diligence.

What he had been trying to impress open Anakin and the Council was that wars began fundamentally with the economy and the politicians.

Mace, Padme, Bail, and Cody were the only people who ever fully understood the points he had been trying to make.

Even Master Yoda hadn’t realized how devastating economy changes could inflict rapid changes on the frontlines and the very course of the war.

Regrettably, it was something Count Dooku had certainly mastered.

A slim boy trotted up to them, he left his helmet on the table so Obi-Wan was able to see his face fully.

He was pale with hazel-green eyes and jet black curly hair. He was maybe fifteen or sixteen. He signed, -Welcome! My name is M-I-C-A-H F-E-T-T. Everyone else here is a Mereel or a Keeves, but I liked the Fett name so I took it. Jango is a badass.

Obi-Wan grinned and signed back, -Hello, I’m O-B-I W-A-N K-E-N-O-B-I. Jango is my buir, he saved me after a bombing on Stewjon.

Micah’s entire being lit up when he realized how well Obi-Wan understood sign. He had actually learned Mando’a Sign before relearning the spoken language.

-I’m sorry about your home, but I’m glad you’ve joined Clan M-E-R-E-E-L, hopefully you will be a badass like Jango one day.

Jango snorted at this, then signed at them both, -You two have fun. Before walking of to join Jaster who greeted his own adoptive son by pushing a pile of flimsies over to Jango.

Obi-Wan didn’t envy them at all. As he turned back to conversation with Micah, he couldn’t help thinking that sometimes it was nice to just be a kid.


Obi’ika was an endless surprise. Jango knew that despite the age difference, Obi-Wan had just made a life long friend with Micah when he didn’t ask the other boy to slow down.

Jango turned to make a remark to Jaster, but caught the entrance of an unwelcome person. Bristling at Montross' appearance, Jango glared at his buir and signed, Why?

As in; Why didn’t you tell me your di’kut of a second was showing up?

Jaster shook his head minutely.

He hadn’t known.

Jango frowned, looking back at the giant of a man who was many years Jango’s senior with a repritatution for never taking in a bounty alive.

Jaster had yet to pick a successor to this day, but before Jango came along, Montross had always seen himself as next in the line. He was ruthless and cruel, and Jango had never really been sure of why his buir had chosen this brute as his second. Not  until Jango aged and started doing solo missions did he realize how dangerous Montross, not as muscle, but as a stagiest. He was as good at interpersonal politics as he was at killing. Montross had a particular talent of downplaying anyone else’s successes and painting himself in a heroic light.

One mission had nailed it home. Jango had returned to his buir’s side expecting praise and receiving not a single remark about his successful mission save for an off hand comment about Jango being grateful for Montross’s support on the mission.

Except that Montross hadn’t helped at all in that mission and had executed his bounty after Jango had the man bound and subdued. It was the wake up call Jango needed that Montross wasn’t just brutish and cruel, he was competent and clever.

And right now, the man had removed his helmet, revealing his white-blond hair and scared face as he gave Obi’ika the stink eye for the shiny new suit of beskar.

Obi’ika was deep into a discussion with Micah, Micah who was equally occupied, the normally twitchy young man was enamoured with meeting a new person who could speak in fluid sign.

Jango had his hand on his blaster when Montross’s large hand landed on his ad’ika’s shoulder.

What happened next left his pulled blaster without a clear target.

Obi-Wan didn’t just panic, he went kriffing feral.

Micah pushed himself out of the way, knowing better than to mess with Montross who was seven feet of deadly intent.

A sentiment Obi’ika clearly wasn’t aware of as grabbed the Montross had placed on his shoulder, and flipped shoulder.

On one had, holy kark, armoured, Montross was well over three-hundred pounds, but then Obi-Wan was short and Montross was tall enough that leverage was in Obi’ika’s favour.

From there though, things escalated, the ade were pulled back and every adult in the room drew a weapon. Jango was running, but it was as if time had slowed, and the few yards he needed to cross were miles away.

Obi’ika thankfully had enough experience to keep Montross from getting a hold of him or from pulling a weapon. He angled Montross’s fall so he landed on his arm that held his helmet. It was an amazing show of tactical speed. Nearly all of Montross’s weight smashed his arm between the floor and his helmet, the helmet pressing down on the unarmoured inside of his arm.

The crack of bone was audible across the room, Montross grunted, but pain for him had never slowed him before, no, it translated into violence.

He reached for Obi’ika, and if Obi-Wan had tried to run, Monstross’s reach would have caught him. But Jango’s son was a tooka. 

Monstross wasn’t exactly used to small ones attacking him, and didn’t respond quickly enough as Obi’ika slipped under his arm, taking the broken limb twisting sharply upward.

Monstross did let out a yelp, likely more from surprise than the pain as his face met the floor for a second time in the span of 30 seconds. Obi’ika was unexpectedly vicious as he kept pulling up on the broken arm with one hand and with the other, scooped up Monstross’s fallen hamlet and used it to smash into the side of the big man’s skull, nailing him in the temple.

Repeatedly.

On near anyone else, it might have been a potentially lethal offense, but it only served to enrage Montross.

Luckily, Jango reached Obi’ika as Montross rose up. Jango had his ad’ika around the waist, rolling with him so that his body blocked Obi’ika mostly out of sight.

He had his blaster pointed as Jaster dove in seconds later, tackling Montross back to the ground, wrestling the weapon from his hand.

Jaster, the better warrior, the better man, had Montross again pinned, this time a blaster pressed to the giant’s bleeding temple.

“Montross, concede,” Jaster commanded.

Montross lay on the ground, breathing hard, but after a moment, nodded his consent.

It was enough for Jaster.

But not enough for Jango who kept Monstross sighted down his blaster, even as Jaster helped him sit up.

Jango didn’t lower his weapon until Jaster had to get on his knees behind Monstross to pop his broken arm back into its socket because Obi’ika had managed to dislocate it.

Stars, who the hell had trained his ad?

Taking off his own helmet, Jango sat up straighter as he tried to get a better look at Obi’ika.

His ad was still panicked, his arms locked around Jango’s waist.

“Obi’ika, Obi-Wan ?” Jango tried to get his attention but Obi’ika was staring at Montross as if he would turn into krate dragon and eat them all. “ Obi-Wan Kenobi,” he tried again.

Obi’ika jerked, releasing Jango and scurrying back from him. Jango didn’t try to grab him, he holstered his blaster and held out his hands, palms up, “Obi’ika, you’re safe, we won’t let anyone hurt you.”

“Obi-Wan Kenobi?” Montross snarled, “You adopted a runt?”

Jango didn’t look back at the man, but he heard the cuff of Jaster’s hand against the man’s impossibly thick skull.

“That runt managed to take you to the ground,” Jaster reprimanded, voice cold. “ He also broke and dislocated your arm. You’re lucky he merely attempted to test your skull against beskar or he would have blown a hole through your little brain from ear to ear.” 

Attacking ade was unacceptable, even if Montross hadn’t actually attacked Obi-Wan, though had the brawl been allowed to continue, Jango had little illusions that his son might no longer be breathing.

“Obi’ika,” Jango coaxed, “it’s alright, you’re alright.”

But Obi’ika was staring at him with eyes the colour durasteel, gazing at Jango as if had betrayed him as he were as afraid of Jango as he had been of Montross.

Jango waited, everyone else did too.

This, THIS, was why they didn’t allow their ade to become child soldiers. Obi’ika was only now entering an age where more serious training should have begun. But years of war, from what age, nine? eight? a karking six-year-old!? This, more than anything, told Jango how badly this child had been treated in his life.

“Please,” Jango pleaded, voice quiet, “verd’ika, I won’t hurt you.”


Obi-Wan was going to be sick.

He hadn’t expected to be touched by a stranger, and certainly not by one who felt as ugly, or perhaps uglier, than Darth Maul, if not near as Force-powerful in presence.

Still, as tightly as his shields had been closed, having a warning blare that extreme of screamed at him had sent him straight into fight or flight.

Obi-Wan had never been this prone to panic, but he’d never cut himself off even this much from the Force before, oh, and he was also an eleven year old. The hardest thing he had had to deal with at this age in his past life was Bruck getting him in a headlock. In the Temple he had never been around such homicidally inclined people.

How did Force sensitives who weren’t raised in the Temple adapt to this, the answer was of course that they sadly didn’t. Seekers often checked asylums for Force sensitives. The only real advantage most people had was that strong Force sensitives were not overly common, and among them, most never developed the skill well enough to be a danger to themselves.

Too bad for Obi-Wan he had Master level’s awareness with about ten percent of the control he had when he was older.

Which left him panicking in the middle of a fight.

Karking perfect.

Obi-Wan had known the moment that he broke the giant’s arm that he would have to end him.

Jango saved him from being forced to pound the man’s brains out. 

Even pulled out of the fight, Obi-Wan’s blood still felt electrified as he tried to replay the fight in his head. Had he used the Force?

Maybe he had when he threw the man over his shoulder, but Obi-Wan’s arms ached so badly, even with the adrenaline still pumping through his system he felt it. So likely, he had exceeded his own physical strength. If he had used the Force, tossing a man wouldn’t have been all that difficult.

Slightly calmed by this thought, Obi-Wan had been immediately thrown back into a panic when he had heard Jaster address the giant as Montross.

Montross was Death Watch, Obi-Wan was so certain of it that he suddenly wondered if everything he thought he knew about Jango and the True Mandadalorians was a lie.

Before Jango Fett had strangled five Jedi into their graves, there had been Montross.

Mercenary Montross.

A man who made Tor Vizsla look like a humanitarian. 

Meeting Master Feemor hadn’t made him remember the incident, it hadn’t occurred to him the significance of him being a Seeker. In addition to many of his memories fading, it wasn’t like he had an exact plotline of events.

Obi-Wan hadn’t known Feemor in his old life, not even the name, nor that Qui-Gon had had a Padawan before Xanatos. He hadn’t known anything about him because Feemor had been murdered before Obi-Wan had become a Padawan.

It explained more of why Qui-Gon had been so broken when he had first met Obi-Wan, one Padawan fallen and the other…

Obi-Wan hadn’t made the connection until he heard Montross’s name, until he realized the proximity of the events to their physical location.

Picking up younglings in the Mandalorian system was never safe, not even when they had been welcomed. Jedi were seen as kidnappers, despite the fact that the only children taken against the guardians’ wills were in cases of some type of interrable conditions or abuse.

When Obi-Wan had been eleven, the hostile relations between the Jedi and Mandalorians had been rejuvenated by the slaughter of three younglings and a Seeker.

It hadn’t been publized because the details had been… graphic. Obi-Wan had never learned the name of the Master who had died in his expedition to bring younglings home to the Temple. The Masters hadn’t wanted to terrify anyone. But rumours were hard things to kill.

The stories of  the Mandalorian Montross had been painted in blood, a monster who hunted Jedi for sport.

Obi-Wan didn’t know why Montross had done it, but the Seeker’s unmarked shuttle had it’s autopilot initiated to bring it back to Coruscant where the bodies of three children, all under the age of three, and the Seeker had been found in pieces.

The message had been clear, Jetii stay away from the Mandalore system.

Jango had at least killed the Jedi who had killed his people, an act of revenge, not- not bloodsport.

To Obi-Wan’s knowledge Montross was the only case of ‘kill on sight’ the Temple had.

“Obi’ika, you are safe,” Jango said again as Obi-Wan stared at him, waiting for some kind of explanation.

But Jango didn’t get it, didn’t understand the vile intruder that was amongst them. The Force was still telling him they, everyone in this room, were in danger. He didn’t need to look at Montross to know the mercenary was at this very moment fantasizing about his death.

Obi-Wan didn’t answer the naivety Jango was displaying, and he really hoped it was naivety.

The only positive Obi-Wan could really pick out from this was that Feemor and the youngling they had gone to Stewjon for had died near instancious deaths, and in that equation it had there had only been one youngling, not all three they had set out to retrieve.

Obi-Wan tasted bile in the back of his throat.

This, THIS, was why the Jedi feared, and should fear, the Mandalorians. Most of them were fine but if Montross was a part of this clan... Obi-Wan knew he had made a mistake in trusting these people.

Obi-Wan heard footsteps behind him and twisted to find Agni with a kind smile on his face come to kneel by him, “Hello, ad’ika, what do you think of a nice cup of tea?”

Obi-Wan blinked at him, and he was suddenly able to think past the emotions, he heard the Force push against him like loth-cat looking for attention. On one hand, telling him to be careful of Montross and on the other, telling him to trust the people concerned about him. Like this nice man offering him tea.

No, these people weren’t bad.

By the time Obi-Wan had come to Mandalore in another life, the True Mandalorians, this entire clan he was now a part of, had been wiped out. And Jaster Mereel had been dead before his clan had died because Jango had become the Mando’alor in his place by the time of Galdiraan.

The True Mandalorians weren’t evil, Montross was merely the snake in the hawk’s nest.

Still, even as he took Agni’s proffered hand, Obi-Wan knew he could never let these people know he was a Force sensitive.

The Slaughter of the Seeker had been a horror story so nightmarish that Obi-Wan hadn’t believed it fully until he met the monster in person.

Montross had killed younglings, torn them apart.

If someone like Montross found out he was a Jedi, he would cease to be seen as human. 

Jango Fett would not be so quick to help Obi-Wan then.

If Montross was the snake in the hawk’s nest, then Obi-Wan was a misplaced sparrow, if the snake didn’t eat him first, one day he would grow up and be seen as the invader he was.

It was a shame too, after Agni and Maas had so newly minted beskar armour for him, Obi-Wan had begun to hope that maybe he could belong here.

He knew better now.


Jango was disturbed, by Obi-Wan’s reaction to Montross, more so that his fear of the man seemed to have stretched to the rest of the clan, Jango included. Luckily, Jaster had been almost equally concerned.

“Ade know more about people than we do,” was Jango’s opening argument when they were finally alone. Jango had made Agni swear not to Obi’ika alone, both Agni and Maas were sticking to him. Though Hallas was probably going to be Obi-Wan’s biggest defender, she loathed Montross.

Jaster frowned at him, “Montross is a giant, especially to one so small.”

Montross who had just left, saying in his own defense that had simply been peeved about an unknown child wearing a full set of beskar.

Jango was wealthy enough to afford it and Sinna and Micah both had full sets as well, it wasn’t strange for Obi-Wan to have a set, not after what he had done for them yesterday, but Monstross was stupid about things like rank.

“Obi’ika fought him before he saw how tall he was.”

Jaster tightened his jaw, snapping, “I've known him for longer you've been alive.”

“Exactly!” Jango exclaimed, “So you tell me what he will do after a foundling embarrassed him like that in front of half of clan?”

Jaster was quiet for a long time before looking away, "If I preemptively punish him, he will seek vengeance.”

Jango felt like pleading, he knew Monstross was his buir’s oldest friend but Jaster had a weakness for trusting his friends. “Buir, he's not a man of honour, such a person is not someone we should ever trust.”

“We need him,” Jaster argued.

“No, Buir, we need you. We need you to lead us. We have never needed Montross who is a pale imitation of the Watch. We don’t need the Kyrzes who would ape us after the Republic and we don’t the Vizslas who aim to keep us in perpetual civil war, we need you to stop being a coward.”

Shock followed by rage filled his buir’s face, “How dare you-”

“Ask our women, Buir,” Jango interjected, “Ask them what they think of Montross. If you speak with them and afterward you tell me that you still trust him, I'll drop this.”

Jaster stared at him, denial in his voice, “Our women are warriors, none of them would allow-”

Jango cut his hand in a silence gesture, “I would have killed him myself if they hadn't.” Not a single person in this clan would have allowed such an abuse. “But they tolerate more disrespect than they should because he is your second. Speak to them, see how the ade beyond Obi-Wan think of him, then tell me if Montross is worthy of this clan.”

Jasper was silent and Jango took it as a dismissal.

Before he reached the door, Buir said, "If he is unworthy, Jan’ika, we will have to put him down. He isn't someone to make an enemy of.”

Jango turned back to him, “After the way he looked at my ad'ika, Buir, he is already my enemy.”


AN: Thoughts on the chapter, Tuatara, or feedback? Pretty please?

Chapter Text

AN: Thank you reviewers for all your support, especially on AO3, I am completely blown away by the amount of feedback this story is receiving. I cannot explain how much it means to me.

Chapter 9 - Begin Again

When Jango woke, Obi-Wan wasn't beside him, Obi-Wan wasn't even in the room.

He panicked, he didn't even put his armour on, just slipped on his boots and grabbed his blaster before running out.

He nearly tripped over himself as he found Obi-Wan sitting in the table booth with a cup of tea and a tablet.

Jango's breath escaped him in a large gust.

Obi-Wan looked at him with a raised brow, slightly distant, slightly amused.

He was too damn young to be laughing at him.

"I thought you had left," Jango explained, again, wrong footed. Why did he feel like the child who needed to explain why he was running out without his armour?

"I have nowhere to go," Obi-Wan said in answer.

Not that he wanted to stay, but he had no one else to turn to. Although Jango was pretty sure that Obi'ika was resourceful enough to figure it out if he was ever on his own.

The thought alone made his heart ache, He was too young, too young.

Jango shook his head, "Your place is here."

Obi-Wan said nothing.

Jango gritted his teeth and tried not to growl, "This is your home."

Obi'ika nodded, "Thank you."

"No, that's not what I meant-" he let out another harsh breath. "Obi'ika, you are my son."

Obi-Wan just watched him.

Jango figured he might as well get the hard part out of the way, "And we do need to discuss yesterday."

"Why? It's my word versus his."

This was not going well.

"Why did you flip him over your shoulder? You panicked when he touched you and panicked again after hearing his name. Why?"

Obi-Wan looked at him, weighing him then said, "He squeezed down on my collarbone, closer to my neck. If he hadn't meant me harm he wouldn't have snuck up on me or Micah who -he must know- is deaf and he would have touched either the shoulder plate or closer to it. He squeezed down on my bruises."

Jango hung his head, "And his name?"

"You won't believe me."

"You are aliit, Obi-Wan."

"So is he."

Jango had to marshal his breathing before he could speak, "I promise you, Obi,-Wan, I will hear you."

"Why?" Obi-Wan asked him, "You might have adopted me, but you don't know me. I'm a stranger to you."

"Obi'ika," Jango sighed, dropping to a knee to be nearer to eye level. "I know that you are brave, I know that you are kind-"

"How do you know that?" Obi-Wan interrupted, looking suspicious, no, that wasn't right.

He looked as if he was waiting to be hurt, as if soft words would make disappointment harder to take later on.

Jango signed, 'Because I see you.' He continued to use sign as he spoke because it was good to do something with his hands. "I see you with others. I know that you care for them. I know that you are willing to risk your life for strangers, that you have a warrior's heart. That isn't something that can be taught, only fostered. I know that you are my son, and I will do anything to keep you safe, to help you become the man that I know you will become."

Obi-Wan set down his tablet on the table and leaned forward to hug Jango, wrapping his small arms around Jango's neck. Jango tried not to hug back too tightly as relief swamped him.

Obi-Wan though didn't seem to mind as he relaxed in Jango's arms.

Jango really didn't want to ruin the moment, however, it would only delay the topic.

He pulled back to meet Obi-Wan's gaze, "We still need to speak about the bantha in the room."

Obi-Wan dropped his arms and his gaze, "I don't want to."

Jango caught his hands, "Alright, I'll stop pushing, but Jaster will wish to speak of it with you." Let his buir be the evil one, Montross was his stupid friend after all.

Obi-Wan nodded in acquiesce, however, Jango had little doubts this debate being far from over, but it was over.

Jango touched the side of Obi'ika's face, "I'm on your side, ad'ika."

Obi-Wan looked far from convinced but nodded nevertheless.

Jango offered him a small smile, "Let me get dressed and then we can head over to Agni's ship for breakfast. Micah should be there. Are you up for some training today?"

That got a verbal response at least. Obi-Wan even almost smiled, "Yes, my shoulders feel better."

Jango wondered if Montross had healed yet.

He stood, turning away from Obi-Wan so the boy wouldn't see his thoughts.

Regardless of what Obi'ika thought Montross was guilty of, Jango was probably still going to have to kill him after yesterday.

Montross was too proud and Obi'ika too truthful.

Obi-Wan might avoid conflict, but Jango didn't think he would pretend that Monstross wasn't as dangerous as he was.

Jango sighed, securing the last of his armour in place; today was going to be a day.

He was relieved again when he came back, Obi'ika had remained. His mug was on the drying rack, again, the boy was too… unchild-like.

He motioned for Obi'ika to join him.

They didn't make it far from the Salvation before they were set upon by a horde of tiny ade.

Okay, not a horde, there were only three of them, but by the sound they made, they might as well have been.

They called Jango's name but swarmed Obi'ika.

Jango tensed, worried that Obi-Wan would be overwhelmed.

But Obi'ika just opened his arms and smiled at the toddlers.

"Obi'ika, this is Kalli Reeves, Koska Reeves, and Asara Reeves," Jango introduced. "Ages three, two, and one respectively. Demons, this is my ad, Obi-Wan Kenobi."

"Up," Kalli demanded, pushing Asara at Obi-Wan.

Asar-ika had only recently learned how to walk, but she didn't so much walk as run. Leading to the interesting, headache inducing, problem of getting further and tiring quicker.

Obi-Wan scooped the tiny child up in his arms, along with Koska who didn't normally like being held or touched by anyone save for her immediate family.

But Koska curled herself tight to Obi'ika as if they were old friends finally united. Koska's dark braids fell over Obi'ikas shoulder.

Jango bent to pick up the oldest, Kalli, and led the way to Chakraborty's ship, which was by far the biggest in their small fleet with the most shields as he had the most and the youngest ade.

It's where most of the clan tended to congregate.

Micah's eyes widened when he saw Obi'ika holding two of his little sisters.

Obi'ika sat down on the bench seat at the large table, Koska slid off his lap but stayed pressed to his side while Asara curled against his chest.

The ade began speaking in rapid sign and Jango turned away to help Maas and Chakraborty with the breakfast plates.

"What the hell was that with Montross?" Maas said in greeting, his face grim.

Jango lowered his voice, "Obi'ika won't say. I told him he'll have to speak with Jaster about it if he won't speak with me."

Maas frowned harder, "He was truly afraid."

Chakraborty shook his head, "He should be, I've never seen anyone get the best of Montross outside of a prolonged spare."

Jango winced, "Can we not speak of it here?"

But Maas was already walking to the table and spoke directly after setting plates down so he could sign as spoke both to Obi-Wan and the other foundlings. "You can't attack someone like you did yesterday, Obi'ika. You either kill him or leave him the kark alone."

"If I had tried to break his neck, I think he might have bitten my fingers off," Obi-Wan said as if he already thought this through. He didn't sign as he gathered plates for himself and for the two Reeves girls still clinging to him.

Jango's response to his ad's statement was a long blink.

'What?' Micah signed in confusion.

Obi-Wan held his fingers toward his mouth and made a chomping motion with his teeth.

Micah's expression of disgusted horror might have been funny if Jango couldn't feel his grey hairs beginning to spontaneously grow years before their time.

The girls thought Obi-Wan's statement was something hilarious and the conversation fell into the three little terrors trying to get either Micah or Chakraborty to give them the sign for cannibalism.

Which was when Sinna, lean and deadly, strode to the table. Once she caught onto the current topic, she flipped her raven braid over her shoulder and put an abrupt end to the conversation by glaring at the girls with furious blue eyes.

Sinna then introduced herself to Obi-Wan who greeted her politely in sign. Sinna smiled at Jango's ad, completely unaware that Obi-Wan was responsible for the discussion about cannibalism.

At least, Jango mused, his life wasn't going to be boring.

-):0:(-

After breakfast, Sinna took the girls and Jango, Maas, and Chakraborty took Obi-Wan and Micah to the training room.

They already knew, thanks to Obi'ika's demonstration yesterday that the boy was killed in hand to hand, but they didn't get past stretching before learning something new about his ad.

Micah signed as Obi-Wan bent to touch his toes, 'How flexible are you?'

Obi-Wan smiled then dropped into a split.

Jango winced because legs weren't supposed to do that.

"Jango," Maas called and informed him, "Your ad'ika is broken."

Micah shook his head and signed, 'Show off.'

Obi-Wan grinned, a mischievous glint in his grey eyes. He placed his hands on the floor behind him and from the floor, proceeded to bend backwards in a backbend before raising his legs straight up in a karking handstand.

Even Kalli couldn't do that and her favourite mode of transportation was cartwheels.

Micah signed, 'I hate you.'

Obi'ika grinned as he met his friend's gaze and while still upside down, balanced on one hand to sign with one hand and maintaining the single-handed handstand, signed back, 'I love you too.'

Micah tackled Obi'ika the boys fell into grapple which ended with Micah having to tap out when Obi-Wan got him in a headlock with his legs.

Chakraborty shook his head and asked Jango, "None of you are related yet your line continues to be the most insane."

"Asinine. The word you are looking for is asinine," Maas corrected. "Remember the day Jango first learned how to fly a jetpack?"

Jango smiled at his vode and told them fondly, "Tell Obi'ika that story and I will gut you."

Maas and Chakraborty laughed at him.

Jango smiled too as he plotted his revenge against his two vode who were definitely going to tell Obi'ika that story the first chance they got. All the while kept an eye on his ever surprising ad'ika who never failed to astound.

-):0:(-

Janga was annoyed and didn't hide it as he sat across from Montross while glaring at Jaster. Jaster had brought the four of them together after dinner onto Jaster's ship.

A ship that Jango still very much considered home.

He didn't at all like having Obi'ika so close to Montross as they took their seats.

"I think it is best we discuss this misunderstanding," Jaster said.

Jango held himself at the ready beside Montross as he glared at Jaster, this was a stupid idea.

"There is no misunderstanding," Obi'ika said calmly, "He's a serial killer."

They all fell silent, staring at the ad'ika.

'Serial Killer' wasn't a term often used or used lightly.

In a galaxy of trillians, serial killers had three fates, if they were planet bound, to whatever community, eventually they were found and killed. If they had access to starships and they were stupid or slipped up, they were also killed.

But if they were smart and their hunting grounds were only limited by the fuel it took to skip between stars, they hunted until the end of their lives.

Montross shook his head and huffed, "Stewjon, you say?"

"That is a bold claim," Jaster said with forced calm.

"Bold?" Montross laughed, "It's absurd."

"Why did you panic?" Jaster asked, ignoring the man whose past Jango was running over in his head.

Serial killers were supposed to be smart, obsessive, and capable of great violence.

Montross was indeed obsessive, his ship was spotless and he would let no one on it. Jango would like to say he wasn't smart, but the brutish behaviour, to a certain extent, was an act. Montross was Jaster's second for a reason, and that reason wasn't because he was sloppy or ignorant of details.

"Buir," Jango gritted out, "I've told you about this already."

"I want to hear from him, what about Montross's name set you off, Obi-Wan."

Obi'ika's gaze was steely when he said, "I thought he was just a story, and I was already spooked."

"So why are you still so sure?" Jaster asked as if he were speaking to an equal, not his grandson, not his bu'ad.

Obi-Wan held out Jango's datapad to Jaster. Obi-Wan had been carrying it around with him all day.

"There's a difference between people who like to kill and serial killers," Obi-Wan said, "He's good at both. But serial killers have patterns."

Jango watched Jaster's face as he flipped through whatever files were there.

It wasn't often he saw the ripples of horror and open disgust on his buir's face.

"I looked for the pattern from the story I was told, and I compared it to his reported bounties -Where I found more patterns," Obi-Wan said seriously.

Montross snorted, "You think you're so kind of an investigator? I kill people for a living, kid."

"You kill children." Obi-Wan said, meeting the large man's gaze dead on, "You slaughter your victims, limb from limb. But you're smart enough not to kill your bounties like that. Most of those kills are attributed to Wookies. Wookies are an easy target because their language is hard to learn and they are actively hunted for illegal fights. But Wookies don't hurt kids, they aren't animals, unlike you."

Montross was glaring at Obi-Wan in such a way that had Jango subtly reached for his weapon.

Jango winced as Obi-Wan continued to bait the supposed serial killer. Which he did believe was true, the man's final damnation was in Jaster's continued silence.

"Except," Obi'ika said primly, "I think that would be an insult to animals. Even banthas have more grace than you."

Montross bared his teeth at Obi-Wan and spoke to Jaster with jaw tight, "Jas, reprimand your ade before I do it for you."

Jango glanced at his buir, who looked up to meet Montross's gaze, slowly.

The look on Jaster's face was lined with sorrow and resignation.

Montross and Jango responded in the same moment.

Montross brought both arms up, one hand grabbing the barrel of Jango's blaster, the shot going into the ceiling and the other Montross brought up his blaster against Obi-Wan.

Jaster, delayed by emotion, likely guilt, didn't respond quickly enough.

Luckily, Obi'ika did, jumping to his feet and grabbing his own forearm to help direct the ricochet of Montross's shot.

Jango froze, his knife plunged deep into Montross's throat, a second after Montross's own shot was deflected back into the giant's face, burning a whole through his brains.

Jango gaped at Obi'ika who was staring down at his beskar in awe.

Obi'ika turned a smile up to Jango, "This is so cool, I didn't realize how reflective it was, and as long as you brace the impact is far less than what I had imagined."

"Cool?" Jaster repeated a bit breathlessly, lowering his own unshot blaster, "You just killed a man."

Obi'ika shrugged, "I killed eleven people the other day, what I haven't done is use beskar to direct a blaster bolt. Besides," he glanced at the dead man who had slumped to the side, "he had it coming."

Jango had a moment of hysterical laughter rise to his lips, his ad'ika had just killed Mandalorian Montross with one shot fired with a mere bracer.

By the time Obi'ika was past puberty, he might very well be the most deadly being in the galaxy.

Jaster sighed, "Go, the both of you. I'll take care of the body and the beskar."

Jango stood, taking Obi'ika's hand before the boy could say anything else.

As they walked back to their own ship, Obi'ika asked, "Are you mad?"

"That you didn't sleep last night and spent the hours you should have been resting researching homicides, yes, I am, actually. It will be an early night for you, no arguments."

Jango was only sort of kidding, but he was mostly serious. Clearly, Obi-Wan, despite his intelligence, would need guidance in taking care of his own health.

Obi'ika rolled his eyes but tugged on Jango's hand as he came to a stop in the hangar, "How upset are you?"

Jango halted and let out a long breath before turning to face Obi'ika's terribly earnest expression. "I'm extremely upset that our clan has been harboring a serial killer, more so because whatever evidence you research revealed and was so clear to my buir wasn't probably not the full extent of Montross's crimes. I am yet more enraged because his victims included foundlings. I am upset that you came so close to harm today with both Jaster and I there, however, I am grateful, that you held true and ended that traitor."

Obi-Wan threw his arms around Jango's waist, they both almost dropped their helmets.

But they managed, and Jango ruffled Obi'ika's hair, "I told you, ner ad'ika, you are aliit and I'm always going to be on your side."

Obi-Wan held onto him a little tighter and Jango smiled, hopeful that they could continue to build trust in one another.


Quinlan Vos dreamed.

He dreamed Obi-Wan was in danger, but when reached out his hand across the darkness between the stars, someone had already saved him.

"Come back!" Quin cried, "Come back!"

But Obi-Wan was too far away.

"Please, come back!"

Nothing.

Quin woke, gasping, "Obi-Wan!" his hands searched the bed, but his friend wasn't here.

Because Obi-Wan was dead.

The Force brushed across his senses, making false a statement Quin had known to be true.

He kicked the covers off and went to the refresher to wash his face, the light flipped on and he glared into his own brown eyes.

The Force swirled around him in answer.

He glared harder and whispered, "What do you mean he's not dead?"

The Force didn't answer him.

Sassy tooka.

Quin's hands tightened on the sink's rim, the Force's attitude reminded him of Obi-Wan.

Shaking his head Quin left the room, he waited in the main room a moment, to see if he had woken Master Tholme up.

Thankfully, he hadn't.

Quin left, finding himself on the way to the creches before he had made up his mind what to do.

He was restless, and he didn't want to see the pitying looks his Master had been shooting at him for weeks.

Master Ali-Alann's room was easy to find. His youngest student was nine, which wasn't so young that he was necessarily busy all the time. When he knocked on the door, Master Ali-Alann opened it a moment later.

Clearly, he hadn't been sleeping, but, as Quin had hoped, he was alone.

Master Ali-Alann offered him a kind smile that was sad around the edges, "Quin-"

Quin threw his arms around the man's waist and the tall man wrapped him in a hug.

Creche masters never judged.

Ali-Alann led him to bed.

All creche masters had giant beds because it wasn't at all uncommon for a creche to sleep in a giant puppy pile.

It amused Quin how many people outside the Order thought Jedi were aloof mystics.

Well, sure, they were usually emotionally contained, though that was for practical reasons. Even having every youngling train in their initiate years was practical. Of all occupations in the Jedi Order, the Knights Corps demanded the most self control, it was the hardest path any of them could undertake and there was honour in that. It was a good thing they grew up aspiring to that, rather than to concepts of traditional families and freedom in the public eye.

It helped focus the initiates, Quin understood that, understood that it prepared them all for the potentially deadly nature of their gifts. If a Jedi lost control, people could get hurt. It was worth it.

But it was a shame that the galaxy didn't understand the lessons they were taught as younglings. To love everyone, to listen before being angry, to learn to respect themselves, and give respect to others, no matter how different they appeared to be.

Quin had been old enough to remember arriving at the Temple, older than Obi-Wan, old enough to remember his parents.

His parents who had said they loved him but never showed him love. His parents who gave him away for the ideal of fame and glory, and Master Ali-Alann who had gotten on his knees to welcome him home.

I love you, were words that held no meaning to Quin until he arrived at the Temple. Even if those words weren't often used, their meaning was always tangible.

"Do you want to speak of it?" Master Ali-Alann asked.

Quin swallowed hard, "I dreamed of Obi-Wan."

He felt Master Ali-Alann tense and the wash of pure sorrow that the man released into the Force. "I miss him too, youngling."

Quin was thirteen turning fourteen, he wasn't a youngling. But Quin doubted he would ever correct Master Ali-Alann on it.

"I dreamed he was alive," Quin continued, "and when I woke, the Force seemed to be trying to confirm it."

The Master stilled, before letting out a long breath. "Quinlan, he is with the Force, and he will always remain with us."

Quin shook his head, staring up at the nightlight of stars cast on the domed ceiling, honestly Creche Masters had the coolest residences in the Temple. "He's beyond reach, the Force isn't." His voice quieted, "What if he isn't dead?"

Master Ali-Alann touched his cheek, "My child…" He pulled Quin closer into the circle of his arms before he spoke again, "Sleep on it, and we will meditate on the matter in the morning."

Quin shut his eyes, burying his face in Ali-Alann's shoulder, knowing that it was a negation of belief.

Still…

Quin vowed never to mention it again, but he fell asleep, clinging to the hope that the Force had whispered into his dreams.

Obi-Wan was alive, and one day, Quin would meet him again.


AN: Thoughts, peregrine falcons, or feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

Warning: I am a terrible person.

Chapter 10 - What Buirs Are For

Jango was not at all surprised to discover it was on the shooting range that Jaster fully opened up and accepted Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan's aim and instincts were phenomenal, as was his dedication.

Though, he worried Jango endlessly. Even as Obi-Wan became ever more a part of their aliit, he seemed to drift further into himself.

He grew quieter and ever quieter, to the point where he was nearly as mute as Micah. Thankfully though, it was Micah and his little sisters who could draw smiles out of Obi-Wan.

Otherwise, the boy was so serious.

Or he was sarcastic, Jango didn't know such a young ad could be so serious with such a dry sense of humour.

Training his ad'ika was like training an actual soldier rather than a child. There was no challenge he would back down from, no restriction he wouldn't abide, no order he would question, and he allowed himself no margin of error.

Jango had never met a soul so practical yet so unforgiving missteps. Or perhaps he had never seen a perfectionist train. In combat, Obi'ika was like a fish in water, but in training, even the smallest hesitation between forms, he would practice it until there is no imperfection, until his feet are blistered and his knuckles bleeding.

Jango and Jaster trained hand to hand, but essentially, they were highly trained street fighters, but Obi'ika turned their brawling skills into indentivable katas from assassin guilds.

Jaster thought it was a weakness, his forms beautiful, but predictable. Jaster's fighting techniques had three fundamental elements; brutality, speed, and unpredictable by being chaotic.

Jango couldn't fault Obi-Wan for trying to find rhythm in the chaos. After all, Jango was the only one in their clan to master Jaster's technique. Yet, Jango still thought it was incredible that Obi'ika could reverse engineer the techniques to the original forms they were designed from. To the point where Jango had started studying diverse fighting forms throughout the galaxy on the holonet.

Jango was a bit chagrined to realize that Jaster's forms weren't entirely unique, and after about sixth months of research, he was downright horrified to learn that Jaster's fighting forms had developed from a hand to hand interpretation of a jetii lightsaber form.

Something they called Juyo, the seventh form. Jango vowed never to tell his buir that. The only consolation was that Juyo seemed to be a form the jetii Order in large part disagreed with because of its violence.

That his ad'ika was well on his way to learning a jetii form made Jango just a little bit nauseous.

Sure Jango haf mastered a version of it himself, but blade work and hand to hand were different.

Obi'ika on the other hand looked as if he would handle a sword just fine.

Agni and Maas noticed this too and gifted Obi'ika with an ever growing arsenal of knives and throwing blades.

Still, the jetii were warriors who could honestly compete with the Mandalorians. So, despite his distaste and reservations, Jango committed himself to learning all he could about the Juyo Form to better train his ad'ika who seemed to prefer structure to Jaster's instructions of 'Learn to punch faster.'

Juyo, Jango learned, was a series of complicated katas, short and aggressive combinations of kicks and lashes. With a jetii sword, there was a lot of unnecessary movement to distract and inspire fear in the oppenot, it was frankly exhausting just trying to track the motions of the holo images he found/stolen.

Jango much preferred Jaster's simplified vision of it, however, the complicity and needed energy of the Juyo were likely what Obi'ika needed.

His endurance was frankly freakish.

Indeed, the more structure he provided his ad'ika in training, the more Jango pushed him, the more the ad seemed to thrive. Thrive as a person and self-confident individual who saw worth in himself and his own skills.

Yet, the only time Obi'ika ever acted his age was when he had nightmares, which was also the only time Jango at all felt like a father rather than a military superior to the ad'ika. It was when Obi-Wan's calm facade was shattered by whatever hell lingered in the dark of his mind.

Slowly, they built a foundation of trust between them, and Jango thought that he could maybe give his ad'ika back his childhood. The training could be just a keystone of his education, not the thing essential to the clan's survival.

It was a hope that died when the civil war on Mandalore began in earnest.

It was sadly then that Jango learned how gifted his ad'ika was, not just in combat, but in the art of war.

None of them doubted after the first few months of battling for settlements and the claim over cities that Obi'ika had been Death Watch.

Obi-Wan simply understood the enemy too well, saw the layout of Mandalore's landscape with far too many keen insights, and was able to help them stay several steps ahead of the Watch.

Jaster sighed, pulling Jango from his thoughts as his buir remarked, "I find myself grateful Obi'ika is yours, we might have lost this war already if the Watch still had him."

Jango's lips thinned as he turned over reports, the Watch were like roaches, on the defensive, they were beginning to flee Mandalore to do harm across the Outer Rim. They had just yesterday had a report from Sinna on Nar Shaddaa that a Watch member had spurned a hutt in the guise of a True Mandalorian.

Mandalore currently occupied a precarious position. In the midst of yet another civil war, they made themselves vulnerable to off-worlder influence. Luckily, even the Watch was having difficulties encouraging such chaos. The war was progressing so fast that accurate reports seemed to prove invalid in the span of days, which wasn't enough time for most natives to act, much less off-worlders.

Except for the fact that his buir had yet to take the formal steps to position for the political titles that would give true momentum to their side.

"Buir, don't you think it's time-"

"The Kryze clan has already agreed to adopt the True Mandalorian Codex," Jaster said, proactively cutting off his proposition.

One he had —admittedly— made before.

Jango snorted, turning to give his buir disbelieving eyes, "And you believe them? Adonai is desperate to keep power, he would say anything, that doesn't mean we should trust him to uphold our beliefs."

"We've been over this Jan'ika, we can't afford a three sided war and we should not force a movement. Such things must be realized from the bottom up, not the top down. If Adonai will allow Supercommando Codex to be practiced then it can grow routes. We cannot change everything all at once. Mandalore must stabilize before we can enforce a new way of life."

Jango was tired of this argument, but he repeated his point anyway, "The practice of the Supercommando Codex is what will bring stabilization, Buir."

Jaster didn't look up as he made a few more adjustments on the holotable. "Your optimism is endearing, Jan'ika, however, this war won't be over for another few years. The Watch is going to take this fight off-world, and scatter us throughout the galaxy." His gaze caught and held Jango's, "You will learn to be less cavileer about our victory. Adonai Kryze is a politician, his girls are young, they are a vital symbol of life and hope for Mandalore. I am not like him-"

"Yes!" Jango cut in and continued in sign as spoke out of agitation. "That's exactly why it should be you on the throne."

Jaster sighed, "I would accuse you of being power hungry, for our lineage, but I know you better than that. You make me proud, yet I urge you to remember that I cannot lead a war if I'm juggling politics. If there is to be any representation, then debate, free speech, and patient discussion of laws and movements must be allowed to succeed. I have neither the patience nor the aptitude for that. Where I'm needed most is on the battlefield."

Jango looked away, disagreeing in silence lest they continue to chase each other round and round in this argument. Jaster's strength for diplomacy was above average for a Mandalorian, it was just his tolerance for bantha-shit that was low, but that Jango believed was a point in his favour. It was the empty talk of politicians that had pushed them back into war time and time again.

However, they had another campaign for the Capital tomorrow that needed their full attention.

As if his thoughts had summoned them, Agni, Maas, Micah, and Obi-Wan entered the conference room.

Obi'ika spared Jango a warm glance, before those perceptive grey eyes settled on the holotable. Jango stood, joining the others converging around the table. He placed a hand on Obi'ika's shoulder as Jaster launched into his plans.

Obi-Wan signed in easy translation for Micah, freeing Jaster to manipulate the holo table and point at the places he was speaking of.

When Jaster finished an hour or so later, he asked, "Does anyone have any questions?"

Jango wanted to usher everyone out so he could get the youngest among them to sleep, particularly Obi'ika who hardly seemed to sleep at all. He always on guard, always ready for a fight or an emergency.

Obi'ika cleared his throat, signing as he spoke, "Ba'buir, I have a few observations."

Which was Kenobi-Speak for, I think your plan is lacking, want a better one?

Jaster wasn't an idiot, he always heard his bu'ad out.

Having an ex-Death Watch member in their ranks, despite how young Obi'ika was, had proved invaluable.

Jaster motioned for Obi'ika to speak.

The odd thing about Obi'ika's speech was how formal he could speak. He spoke like one of the Kryzes.

"We only have one or two ways to win the fight this way. It's only efficient if nothing goes wrong."

Jaster raised a brow, his tone was clearly amused as he challenged Obi'ika to work the holotable, "If you think you can do better, ner bu'ad, you are welcome to share."

Micah sniggered as Obi'ika stepped up to the table and began to alter the scape with an ease that spoke of great familiarity.

Sometimes, Jango was grateful for the strategic advantages that his ad'ika provided, other times, Jango wanted to find Obi'ika's previous guardians and slowly choke the life out of their worthless bodies for putting a child through this kind of military rigar.

Not five minutes later, they were all gaping at the new battle plan on the holo table.

Jaster cursed under his breath.

Agni laughed, "Mand'alor you may be, Jas, but he's our alor'ika."

Our little chief.

Micah signed with a smile, 'He prefers General.'

Jango sighed, of course Obiwan did, but he said aloud while signing, "Verd'ika is will do, lest it go to his head." Or his already inflated sense of responsibility. "Mind explaining your master plan, ner ad'ika."

Obi'ika smiled up at him, happy about the open pride Jango was showing him.

That smile made Jango's heart ache as it was brought home to him again that Obi-Wan didn't know his worth, didn't realize how brilliant he was.

Obi-Wan began going over his plan, better articulated than Jaster's previous plan, and Jango couldn't help thinking that Micah was correct.

General was an apt description of their Obi'ika.


A Month or So Later


Obi-Wan dreamed.

He dreamed of General Grievous, of fighting him and finishing him off with a blaster of all things.

He dreamed of Cody giving his lightsaber.

In some ways, Cody was more a brother to him than Anakin. Not because Cody was so much more dear to him but because they were equals. Sure, Obi-Wan was the man's superior, but without Cody, Obi-Wan would have been dead a dozen times over and they both knew it.

With Anakin, things were always more complicated.

As the war drew to its end after three long years, i.e. lifetimes, Anakin seemed more distant than ever and Obi-Wan was growing tired of waiting for him to confide in him.

After this war was done he was going to take Cody, Rex, Ahsoka, and Appo out for dinner with Anakin and Padme.

Padme was pregnant for kriff's sake.

Anakin didn't think they all knew they were a couple?

Obi-Wan was drawn back to the present as the Force shared with him Cody's voice as he gave the order to shoot. Confusion stopped his heart, betrayal too far out of reach at the impossibility of it as he fell and fell.

He would not die here, not like this.

Cody had to know that, didn't he?

Didn't he?

Obi-Wan dreamed.

He dreamed of the Temple burning, of his people, his people's young, their children and babies, their dear hearted younglings that they had fought so hard to shield from this violence, to prepare them for the galaxy while also, even in an age where the Force was at its darkest, teach them that Light and love were possible. That they were loved and wanted for more than their ability to wage war, a lesson they had failed in teaching to their Padawans and young Knights.

There was nothing like a child's love for their guardians, and teaching them to extend that love beyond their people, to the galaxy they served was joy and the truest expression of compassion.

To love the Force was to love life.

A Knight's journey was more complicated, but their younglings?

They were cherished.

To see them still, lifeless, cut down by an internal power, brought his breath in short. His chest was so tight he could hardly breath at all.

He had to know.

He had to know.

He had felt Anakin fall, felt his anguish, felt the darkness obscure his light like a total eclipse of a sun.

But Obi-Wan couldn't believe that-

He watched.

He watched.

More cruel than the clones turning on the Jedi and the clones being felled by lightsabers.

This was wrong.

This was evil.

This was all wrong!

Hadn't Dooku told him in the beginning?

Hadn't Dooku told him the Sith were in the Senate?

They had only rece discovered that Sifo-Dyas had died before the contract for the clones, it had been Dooku himself behind both armies.

And Chancellor Palpatine, now Emperor, at the route of it all.

The Naboo Crisis.

Darth Maul.

Satine's death.

Mandalore's descent back into chaos and self destruction.

And Palpatine grooming Obi-Wan's Padawan against him, against the Order.

Tugging and pushing, leading him down a road that even with Anakin's history as slave and all his trauma's and shortcomings he would have never fallen for.

Anakin was too strong for it.

But not if Palpatine had his claws in him from the beginning of his move to the Temple, on the eve of Qui-Gon's death.

Palpatine had turned Anakin's compassion into obsession. His love for Padme and the Republic into possession.

The drive for power to maintain ownership.

Fear, anger, hate… his life, this war… had pushed Anakin over an edge that Obi-Wan had gone about all wrong and had been unable to catch him.

When Yoda told him it was his responsibility to end him, Obi-Wan nearly fell to his knees and begged.

Anakin was his brother, his little brother who he had failed completely- he couldn't do it.

But Yoda didn't give him that choice, and with the younglings' bodies still cooling on the grounds of the Temple, the Temple Guard gunned down by the 501st… they had already lost.

Palpatine had already won.

Obi-Wan dreamed of lava, dreamed of his blade clashing with Anakin's, Padme's body collapsed on the ground like one of the younglings —though her chest still rose, the heart beats of their children fluttering like caught birds.

Obi-Wan wasn't certain they were twins, but he was certain of the cruel irony of it all.

Two beautiful spirits whose birth teetered on a razor's edge at the death of the Republic, the end of the Jedi, and all that they had fought, died, and killed for.

"I hate you!" Anakin roared as Obi-Wan let him burn.

As his own heart burned away with him.

It was a shell of the man he had been who picked Padme up in his arms, taking her to safety, to a life of sorrow and hiding.

"-Obi'ika, wake up!"

Obi-Wan jolted, his eyes flashing open, the smell of burning flesh still choking his senses as he stared up at a Mandalorian.

As Cody loomed impossibly large beside his cot.

Obi-Wan shrank away from him but didn't try to fight.

He had to kill Anakin, there was no choice. He could leave him to die, to burn because it is what he deserved.

What they both deserved.

Two victims of the Sith, both too arrogant and foolish to realize they were being had.

But Cody?

Cody had earned the right to kill him.

But it wasn't the barrel of a blaster that touched his forehead but a cool hand against his fevered skin.

Cody shushed him, his words coming in a steady flow of fluent un-accented Mandalorian.

Obi-Wan stiffed, confused as he tried to breathe.

It took Obi-Wan a moment longer than it should have to translate the words, "Shhhh… Obi'ika, you're safe. You're safe. I'm here. I won't let anyone hurt you. I swear it. Ner Ad'ika, you are safe."

Obi-Wan froze, why the kriff was Cody calling him his son?

Then he remembered.

Remembered where he was, who the man at his side was.

Remembered what the Force had done to him.

Obi-Wan scrambled out of bed, shaking as the cold of the Salvation I traveling in hyperspace hit his sweaty skin.

He stumbled on his way to the refresher, but his rage kept him going as he pushed away Jango's attempts to steady him and locked himself in —locking the Mandalorian out. He stepped into the shower and turned the water without removing his clothes, siding down to the floor as he tried to process the Force vision he had been given.

Not given.

No, give was the wrong word.

Forced upon him was accurate.

Processing was difficult at his age. His emotions turbulent, his psyche ragged as he settled uneasily between multiple realities.

Why had the Force shown him that?

Why now?

Why not when he could do something about it?

His mind railed about what he had learned about Anakin, the clones, and the war.

He hadn't believed that the war could be any more horrific than it already was, as it turned out, he had been quite mistaken indeed.

Mistaken about so very much.

He buried his face against his knees and fought himself not to cry.

Fought himself not to hate the Force he had been raised to love.

He failed at both.

The Force was torturing him, punishing him, and though he deserved it, he hated it. The Force could have revealed Palpatine to him before now when the information was moot. It would have been useful before Qui-Gon had been killed and Anakin seduced.

Having this knowledge now, when he was a child and literally no match against a Sith Lord?

Pointless.

Hopeless.

And he hated the Force for making him feel this pain. For months he had been trying to shield himself from it, to ignore it, to hone his physical senses above his metaphysical ones. But the Force demanded he hear it.

Demanded the right to destroy him utterly, to rip out his heart and crush it.

The Force was supposed to be good, but this…

It was an unwanted reminder that the Force served the Sith too.

Had Obi-Wan been in his right mind, had he not been drowning in emotions as he tried to cut the Force from his very being, as he flailed against its hold, he might have listened to the stray thoughts that crossed his scattered mind.

The stray thoughts that said the Sith had been shrouding the Jedi's thoughts or powers of foresight for decades save for the unlucky few —such as Sifo-Dyas. He might have reflected on how being removed so far from the Order and shielding himself against all Force sensitives, Obi-Wan had allowed himself a window of clarity that escaped others.

Unchecked by the Sith, the Force could speak to Obi-Wan directly however it saw fit.

But such introspection and objectivity was impossible.

As a Jedi Master and High General, Obi-Wan could have accepted these reasonings with humility.

As a boy cut off from his mentors, in the midst of a spiritual crisis as he was shown that his future would lead directly to the destruction and ruin of everything he loved, of the realization that the fate of the entire galaxy at the hands of those he had both loved and had failed?

No, that he could not handle.

Fear of the future leads to anger and anger leads to hate.

And Obi-Wan lost in fear, grief, and anger, he learned —crying silently into his knees as the water that rained down on him turned cold— to hate the Force.

He learned something else as embraced his hate as he simultaneously pushed away the Force.

Yoda was wrong, hate did not necessarily lead to the Dark Side.

After all there was no Dark Side if there was no Force.

Still, Obi-Wan knew he would suffer for his hate. He knew it and didn't care, because hate would keep him going.

Hate would let him stand up and fight.

Revenge wasn't the Jedi way.

But it sure as kriff was the Way of the Mandalorians.

He couldn't undo his own sorrow, but he could blow Palpatine into oblivion.

Sure, he might never be the man's equal in fight, but bombs didn't need skill, they needed timing.

He wasn't sure how he would trick Jango into taking a bounty on Palpatine.

'Hey, Buir, can we please assassinate the Naboo Senator on pro bono work for the greater good of the galaxy?'

Then again, Jango had once upon a time taken a bounty for attempting to assassinate a Nubian Senator before.

Another one of the Chancellor's targeted manipulations of Anakin.

One thing allowed Obi-Wan the strength to get to his feet as memories he had so feared forgetting.

Forgetting felt like it would be a mercy at this point.

However, the thought was of all the ridiculous bullshit that had been happening to him since the start of his apprenticeship with Qui-Gon and then Anakin.

Obi-Wan had always had a sense that the galaxy wanted him dead.

Perhaps, Palpatine specifically had wanted Qui-Gon and him dead.

After all, had Qui-Gon lived, Obi-Wan was certain that Anakin's path would have been different. Just as it seemed likely that Anakin may have fallen sooner, perhaps even pushed out of the Order entirely if Obi-Wan had been killed before his Knighting.

Obi-Wan bared his teeth as he shut off the shower, feeling feral as he thought viciously, He failed to kill me, even at the ruin of everything, I survived.

Obi-Wan vowed that Palpatine wouldn't be half so 'lucky' now that Obi-Wan knew him for what he was, the parasite he had always secretly suspected Palpatine was.

Obi-Wan had been a Jedi Master once and failed.

Kark the Force and kark the Sith.

He had spent so much of the last few months trying to hide himself and his Force sensitivity from the others. It wouldn't be so hard now that his anger was fueling his shields.

The fun thing about Mandalorians was they had been enemies of both the Jedi and the Sith.

To succeed against the Order's self-destruction, to thwart the Sith, it was going to take Mandalore united, crippled by neither civil war nor pafistism.

With all that remained to him, with all that he would become, Obi-Wan vowed he would see his clan bring the Mandalore System together against all outsiders.

This was the Way.


When Jango heard the shower turn off, he backed off. Allowing his ad'ika space to dress in privacy.

Jango's heart ached. Obi'ika hadn't cried out in his sleep, but he had kicked off all his blankets. When Jango had risen to check the ship and that they were still safely on course, he noticed the state of his ad.

At first, Jango had thought he was sick, but when he couldn't wake him, he knew it was nightmares that had claimed him.

Jango worried greatly about Obi'ika's nightmares, but as most of the ade in their clan were foundlings, he had been assured it was normal. Even Jaster had said that Jango had had night terrors at Obi'ika's age.

It came with the never ending fun package of being orphaned by violence and terrorist raids.

When Obi'ika came into the kitchen, going straight to the kettle for a cup of tea.

"The water is already hot," Jango offered.

Obi'ika nodded his head in thanks but didn't speak. He returned to the table with his favoured blue mug smelling of bitter leaves.

His eyes stayed downcast on the steam rising from his tea until Jango spoke again, "Obi'ika?"

Obi-Wan's gaze rose relecuntantly, red rimmed and his irises dark that it was startling. So dark that the grey was nearly black. Whatever nightmare had stalked Obi-Wan had lit a fire of vengeance in his heart.

Jango reached across the space between them to lay a gentle hand on his ad's shoulder.

Obi'ika just looked at him, quiet and waiting, a contained storm of fury.

Jango almost pitied whoever Obi'ika was thinking of as he asked, "Would you like to train?"

Obi'ika nodded as Jango led him into a spar in the tight confines of the ship. He didn't ask what nightmares he had seen, either Obi-Wan would tell him or he wouldn't.

But Jango didn't need to know to help him drag out his demons and beat the ever-lasting kriff out of them.

It was, after all, what Buir's were for.


AN: Thoughts, musings, koala-sheep, or feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

KEYnote: I acknowledge that the last chapter was a bit of a jump, and while that development was important, it was also a lot of angst and almost unnecessary amount of original characters and manufactured drama. So instead of writing a bunch of filler, we are skipping to the fun stuff :D

Trust me to be able to recap and make the things you missed be explained in depth throughout the story. These are a lot of men/boys who don't want to talk to about their feelings but are introspective and will be forced to confront their issues at later dates. You know, when the emotional trauma is much harder to deal with :D

Chapter 11 - Ships in the Night

Quin was sixteen years old and Obi-Wan had been gone for two years and to say that Order had changed in that time would be a dramatic understatement.

Quin wasn't exactly sure how the Council managed it, but within the last year a second temple had been erected in Kashyyyk of all places. All the younglings and initiates had been moved there.

While the planet had often suffered from attacks in the past, the Wookies allowed the Jedi to bring more modern tech to both the surface and the moons. Now the sector was one of the most well protected regions in the galaxy.

Unsurprisingly, tourists didn't begin to come in droves.

Aside from the cities made by the Wookies, which were mostly tree dwellings, there were no roads and at the heart of the jungle, only small ships could pass at low speeds. So unless the tourists wanted to bunk with Wookies and the local fauna, there was no place for them as Kachirho Temple was run only by Jedi Knights or Jedi Corps.

Quin was pretty sure the latter was the main motivation for moving the younglings and creating a temple at such a large capacity in the Mid-Rim. The Corps had literally no use on a planet like Coruscant. The Mid-Rim, however, provided better access for the galaxy at large and had a higher demand for aid. The Mid-Rim just had more problems than the Core, and the Outer Rim.

Though Quin was pretty sure no one, at least not the Council and the senior Jedi Knights and Masters, expected the overall response from the Jedi Corps.

Kashkyysk was not a particularly hospital planet, but the Corpsmen had been through worse. With the locals throwing out an open invitation to the Jedi, the Corps members had swarmed to Kashkyysk in droves, some to just to reunite with old crèchemates or mentors. But others? Others stayed. It became their home between missions, where previously they had been scattered between host planets or semi-temporary bases. Corps became the caretakers of the Temple and within months, it seemed the Knights were outnumbered eight to one, and to many predictably so, it worked better than the Coruscanti Temple ever had.

It shouldn't have been surprising after the fact that the fear amongst the younglings and the initiates of not becoming Jedi Knights disappeared almost completely.

It felt as if their numbers of both quadrupled seemingly overnight, as if they had all been lost to each other and now they were a family, a singular people, united.

Quin knew all this because Padawan training also rececentialazed on Kashyyyk. Yet in all of this, the moving, the rapid speed of intergalactic politics and near endless little complications, it was the cultural shift between the Knights and the other four Corps that caused the biggest stir amongst the older Masters and traditionalists.

The Agricultural Corps, the Medical Corps, the Educational Corps, and the Exploration Corps all had different a tone when it came to the lessons on attachment. Said lessons were so unorthodox it was funny.

The Corpsmembers had partners and children, children that were almost always Force sensitives. Their 'unorthodox' traditions, however, had existed in the Corps separate from the Knights academy for over a thousand years.

Masters Dooku and Qui-Gon Jinn were near gleeful at this discovery and Yoda huffed a lot at people, particularly parents, that had no problems with checking the Grandmaster whatsoever during lessons and training.

As for the Coruscant Temple, the artifacts, weapons, and confidential records had been moved to various safeholds, and the Temple now functioned as a safe house and public school for the Lower Coruscant.

And only the lower levels, which seemed to greatly annoy the surface dwellers, who began calling their Temple the 'portal to the Underworld'. But children, many of whom had never seen the sun before, were hungry for the opportunities the Temple offered.

Now that Mace was the sitting Senator of Coruscant, things were changing, especially when the surface police also were trained by the Jedi at the Coruscant Temple.

As it turned out, the Senator of Coruscant had an obscene level of power over the planet. Power that had gone unchecked due to bribery that Mace was using ruthlessly to embed change into the planet's laws and systems.

He was doing a lot in a relatively short time in the expectation that someone was going to check the power he held. Mace was completely adored by the common folk and utterly despised by the Senate where Mace used his voice to amplify voices such as Senator Organa.

Master Tholme had told him that Mace's run for the Senate seat had motivated the move to create a different Temple further from the Core. Also why their security had been increased tenfold. The Jedi Order was protected by its 'mysterious nature' but in the limelight of politics they were making themselves many more enemies then they had since the fall of the Sith.

Yet things seemed to be getting better, or at least, there was hope that the corruption in the Senate acted against.

Quin wondered often what Obi-Wan would think of it all. He still held onto hope that his friend was still out there, though for the life of him, Quin didn't didn't know why Obi-Wan hadn't come home yet

"Your head is floating between the stars, my Padawan," Master Tholme said, dragging him back to the here and now. "This crisis is not one to be taken lightly."

Quin huffed, swishing through the reports he had been given, "Yeah, well, we weren't the Master who decided to come alone to a planet that can't even pick its name. For the record, I think they should just name it Meldaan and be done with it."

Tholme gave him an unimpressed look but gave no verbal rebuke.

They were both upset. Quin had seen glimpses of civil wars before, fought on their edges more than once, and had seen its carnage and ruin afterward, but he had never even heard of a people at war with their younger generation.

They were fighting children.

Their own children.

The whole thing was grotesque and barbaric.

To Master Tahl's credit, she had requested aid from the beginning, Tholme and Quin were just the closest to get the message. Past a certain sector, communications were often garbled.

The Outer Rim; Home of Complications.

So, it was likely there would be no back up.

"We're coming out of hyperspace," Master Tholme said.

Quin put down the datapad and slipped into the co-captain seat. They prepared for the worst, and the worst came.

Master Tholme pulled them into a loop and it was all Quin could do to up the pressure adjusters and shields as they attempted a quick descent planetside.

"What in the hells-" Quin cursed as the ship was rocked by a shot. "I thought this planet was too poor for naval fighters!"

Master Tholme's expression is grime, "Those aren't natives, those are Mandalorian ships."

Which explained the fire power.

"We are in a Jedi marked ship," Quin hissed, shoving his fear into the Force.

Manalorians were bad news, of late, they had gotten even worse as Mandalore Proper was winding down a civil war, random warriors —terrorists— had been fuffilling an abnormal amount of bounties in the wider galaxy for quick income.

Presumably, to wind back up their civil war.

Such bounties were increasingly targeting planetary leaders and senators.

In the last two years, five senators had been successfully assassinated and Master Mace Windu had had about twenty assination attempts on his life. Not all of them were Mandalorians, but there were enough of the karking lightsaber-proof armour attempting such a feat.

A big problem was just not knowing what was driving the Mandalorians beyond the need for credits. All the information they had was that it was the 'True Mandalorians' who wanted to revert Mandalore back to the old ways.

Marauding, pillaging, and might makes right.

Karking bastards.

"Turn off the power," Tholme ordered.

"What!?" Quin exclaimed.

"We are going to fake a crash."

"No, we will just crash!"

"Do it."

"But the shields-"

"If we drop fast enough, we won't get hit."

"But-"

"Now, Padawan."

Taking a deep breath and praying to the Force, Quin cut the power.

They dropped like an asteroid.

Heart beating wildly, Quin sat ready for his Master's next instruction as the heat on the exterior of the ship speeped inward when the wings took flame.

"Ready?" Tholme asked.

Ready for what!? Quin didn't ask aloud, his hands hovering over the controls.

"Full thrusters pointed down," Tholme ordered.

The ship wasn't going to make it, but it was times like these that you just had to trust the Master Jedi.

Crazy plans only worked when one had faith in them.

The power rocked the ship, and metal grounded as Tholme fought to keep the ship steady, still they warbled.

When the flames rescinded from the outside of the ship, they saw that the durasteel had been mostly ripped away.

Oh, and the ground was continuing to approach rapidly.

"Unbuckle," Tholme said as he did the same.

Quin did and the next moment Tholme opened the hatch. "Cut the power!"

Quin disengaged the thrusters, having to hang onto the seat as his legs flew upward. Not moments afterward, Tholme had an arm around his waist and they were in free fall. Using the Force, they worked in unison to push the ruined starship away from them and then again to soften their fall.

Tholme twisted, shielding Quin's body with his own on the packed dirt as an explosion from their ruined ship caused a small groundquake.

Master Tholme rose two minutes later, brushing off his robes with a brisk gesture, "Well done, Padawan Vos."

Quin got shakily to his feet, glaring at his Master, "How the kark are we getting off this planet now?"

Master Tholme shrugged, "As Master Jinn would say, the Force will provide."

Quoting Master Jinn was never a good indication of how the circumstances were going to proceed.


Obi-Wan was reasonably sure Melida/Daan was actually hell.

It was somehow worse than his memories, despite his lengthened experience in war. Watching kids go to war, starving in tunnels, their fear, their betrayal, and hope for a better future surrounding them all, wherever they looked…

Obi-Wan was both younger and older than was. A thirteen year old with an older teenager's disposition and a lifetime of memories that existed in mind as a favoured halo series. Most days he tried not to think about it too hard. But in times like these, he had the perspective of just how truly young these children were.

Obi-Wan had searched the holonet for the rising crisis of Malida/Daan. He had thought it might be difficult to bring the crisis up with Jango and convince them to enter this fight. But as it turned out, Death Watch was directly involved in this planet's debacle. Maybe they hadn't been in the old timeline, but in this one Death Watch seemed to be swarming toward mayhem and suffering like gas-moths to flame.

Thankfully, at least, even with the presence of the Watch, the True Mandalorians were winning and the Young were taken completely off the field save for the intel they could provide from their new and improved bunkers.

Over the last two years, Jaster hadn't allowed the Mereel clan to expand. He never spoke of Montross, not even to Jango, and no one else dared to talk about it.

Jango tried consulting Obi-Wan with it, worrying that Obi-Wan might being suffering from murdering a clanmember. But of the crimes and mistakes Obi-Wan had made over the course of his lives, killing Montross was an accomplishment, not a horror.

Still, Jaster doubted his own instincts. What was impressive to Obi-Wan was despite his not allowing their clan to grow larger, Jaster's leadership skills went above and beyond Obi-Wan's expectations. The True Mandalorian Codex had become a movement, a call to arms. Obi-Wan agreed wholeheartedly with Jango that Jaster deserved the throne and would serve Mandalore better than the Kryze clan could ever hope to.

He had met Andonai Kryze, he was pretty, well spoken, and sharp-minded but he was a politician, a man with an ambition for power, for his own legacy, not the future good of his people.

He hadn't met Satine yet, she and her little sister had been hidden outside the Mandalore system somewhere, but he understood why Satine had honed onto the notion of Pacifism so strongly.

It was because her father hadn't provided a stronger example of a Mandalorian warrior and because the other members of the Kryze clan and their advisors, were a bunch of weak-willed and slimy parasites who let others die to save their own hides.

It was aborhorant, and now that Obi-Wan fought on the other side of the equation, he understood why so many had sympathized with Death Watch. One path was weakness and impractical good intentions and the other was terrorisms, two kriffing terrible and extremist choices that would never be sustainable.

Unfortunately, Obi-Wan didn't know how to even attempt to persuade Jaster to step forward into a political role. All he knew was that the best politicians didn't want to sit the throne. Hurting his ba'buir's confidence was the only minor regret Obi-Wan had in the entire Montross matter.

A guilt that was appeased by the knowledge that someone as ambitious as Montross may have attempted to kill Jaster, or at least allow him to die. And Jaster had been dead by this year in Obi-Wan's old timeline. So if the choice was between Jaster or a serial killer, Obi-Wan would choose his ba'buir every time.

Obi-Wan signalled to Micah as they entered the Melida compound to rejoin Maas.

Micah paused, signing back, 'Where are you going?'

Obi-Wan signed back, 'A quick check of our intel. I'll circle around.'

It was a lie, and one of very few he had to give because it had to do with Jetii.

Micah nodded, trusting him, and took off in the opposite direction.

Obi-Wan didn't know for sure that she was here and didn't dare reach out in the Force to her.

One, his control over his subdued gifts weren't great anymore and two, he didn't want any other Jetii to come to him. Without opening his shields, without taking off his helmet, it was unlikely anyone would recognize him.

But he didn't need enhanced senses to find the prison cell Master Tahl had been tortured and starved in. It was something that had long haunted his nightmares, mixed in with the images from her actual death.

He hoped she wasn't there.

He hoped that if she was, she hadn't been here as long last time. He had been sure to grab extra medical supplies for this trip. They had been on this planet for two long weeks and he had worried everyday, hardly able to sleep at night.

He didn't go through the vents. The people he encountered this time he had absolutely no qualms killing these aruetiise. The number of guards in the hall supported Obi-Wan's fears that Tahl was here.

And when he heard a scream ring down the basement halls, he knew.

It took a lot to make a Master Jetii cry out during torture.

Obi-Wan used his blaster in quick precise shots, he was so familiar with these weapons now that half of the dozen or so guards dropped before they could fire back.

Their aim wasn't as good as his and the one shot that connected with him, he blocked with his bracer, which ended the shooter's life on the rebound.

The door to the cell opened and the or'dinii came out into the hall without checking first.

Such stupidity had no business in surviving a war.

The hall went eerily quiet save for the sound of Tahl's heavy breathing. That she didn't exit the cell spoke ill of her condition.

"Hello," Obi-Wan said, speaking in Basic for the first time in two years. He had put the voice moderirater on to cover his accent a bit. "I'm here to help, I'm with the Young."

Telling her he was a Mandalorian wasn't likely to help.

Tahl drew in a ragged breath and Obi-Wan bit down on a hiss as he got a look at her. She was on her knees, her arms were bound behind her back, she had several cuts across her dark skin, and her eyes… Her beautiful green-gold eyes were bloodshot and the skin around them bloated.

She clearly couldn't see him even though she looked toward him.

It took another shaky breath before she could respond, her voice soft, "Thank you."

Obi-Wan made his steps audible. They needed to get her out of here, she wasn't as emancipated as she had been the last time, meaning she hadn't been imprisoned as long. They needed to get out of here, but if there was even a chance of saving her sight, he had to administer treatment immediately.

It was what backplates were for, he thought as he dropped to his knees before her. "I have medical supplies, but I'm going to cut your bounds first, okay?"

He didn't touch her until she gave consent in an exhale, "Please."

His heart hurt as he reached around her with a metal cutter to clip the cuffs. Her hands came forward, catching herself against his shoulders as she tried to balance herself from falling on her face.

Her lack of balance was another indication of how hurt she truly was. He spoke as he pulled supplies from his pack and began dabbing around her eyes. He explained what he was doing so she wouldn't have to guess, so as to not further stress her for being unable to see. She relaxed slowly, the bacta easing the pain marked by her breathing evening out. As she slowly put herself and her psyche back together as he did the same to her exterior.

She leaned more heavily into him as he applied the bacta packs designed specifically for eye damage to the damaged organs. It was uncomfortable because she had to keep her eyes open for him to apply them. Afterward, she bowed her head as he wrapped gauze around her head, keeping the patches securely in place.

"We have to go. Do you have any weapons?" he asked, taking her hands in his to help her stand.

She was much taller than him, but he fit under her arm and though she was muscular, he was able to support her around the waist as she leaned into him without difficulty.

"They destroyed it," she said, heartbreak in her voice, as if at the death of a friend.

Losing a lightsaber was like losing a shard of your own soul.

He asked, "Do you want a blaster?"

She heisted but nodded and he gave her one of his own. Her hand curled around the butt and some of her spirit seemed to come back to her a bit.

"Are there any allies in these cells?" he asked, in this kind of war neither the Melida or the Daan were worth his time to save.

"They're all dead," she said flatly.

"How do you know that?" he asked, knowing exactly how she knew that.

"I heard the guards speak of it," she lied easily.

He moved on, "Do you have a ship or did they destroy that too? This planet doesn't have any better medical resources than this."

"They didn't, it wasn't a marked ship, easy to repossess."

Which was proof positive of Tahl's intelligence despite her being in this situation. She was renowned for her diplomatic skills, and though she had been overpowered here, she hadn't been silly enough to arrive in a ship marked by the Jedi insignia.

Melida/Daan wasn't a part of the Republic, as such, being a Jedi was both a hindrance and dangerous.

He was a bit worried about the Watch defending the upper atmosphere, but if he got the shuttle going on the outlands and she entered hyperspace soon enough, she would have a chance.

A better chance than staying here with her injuries on this cursed planet while Mandalorians were also having a turf war here.

"What's your name?" Tahl asked as Obi-Wan led her into the service backroom corridor that led to the shipping docks.

He paused before saying, "Fett, and yours?"

She paused in turn, clearly recognizing the name and putting the metal plating of his armour under her arm together. But she answered honestly, "Tahl. You're too young to be Jango Fett."

Obi-Wan could have said a lot of things to that, like he was Jango's son, but he didn't want her researching him later. "He's a clansman."

She didn't say what he thought she would, "If you're a True Mandalorian help me?"

Because I'm a Jedi, she didn't say, but it was clear in the subtext, though she didn't say it explicitly voice it on the off chance he didn't understand the indication of her robes or her own Coruscanti accent that was thicker than Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon's.

"You say that like it's a bad thing?" he jested, willing to let the issue pass.

"Your clansmen have attacked innocents."

"So have the Jetii," he snapped back with no small amount of bitterness. "You're just one of the Republic's enforcers. At least the True Mandalorians live by their Code, Jetiiese are more selective about the peace and morality they offer the galaxy."

Tahl couldn't know how much of his anger was fueled by self-loathing.

"Whereas the True Mandalorians want to resurrect the old days of marauding and killing without discrimination," she argued back with a bit of bite, reminding him painfully of Qui-Gon.

"Your arrogance betrays you, Jetii," he said a tad more coldly than he intended. "You're speaking of Death Watch, the True Mandalorians are the ones trying to stop them. Just like your Senators want to continue to benefit from corruption and the suffering of others, so does the Watch."

Tahl was silent as Obi-Wan slowed to check the hanger.

They had already cleared out the hanger, none of their clan had stayed here in the fear that the Watch might target this place from the sky.

"My apologies," Tahl said softly as they started moving again. "I didn't understand."

"Then you shouldn't have had an opinion on it. A word to the wise, stay out of Mandalorian issues. Defend yourself but don't interfere."

"Is that a threat?"

"If I meant you harm, Jetii Tahl, I wouldn't have helped you. What is your ship's make?"

She inclined her head, "I can only apologize again. I am not ungrateful for your help." Then she described her ship and it was easy enough to find.

"Do you know the coordinates for a safe place to jump to?" he asked as he all but carried her up the ramp of the ship.

She gave him a route that would jump her to one of Kashyyyk's moons.

He sat her in the copilot seat and was partially torn like he had been in his other lifetime.

To ensure Tahl's safety, he should go with her. Escort her to safety.

But he wasn't a Jedi any longer, and maybe he had never been meant to be that kind of Jedi.

Ultimately, the reason he had been promoted to the High Council wasn't because he put individuals above the lives of others. No, he had been promoted because he was able to make those hard choices.

Maybe it made him a cold hearted bastard, but it's exactly what made him a good warrior.

Still, he drove the ship out of the hangar himself, flying low down the east of a line of hills toward the barrenlands no one was fighting over.

Obi-Wan's blinker flashed on his com. He tapped in a short message, Cleared cell wing, regroup in 02.00.

Considering he couldn't use up all the fuel of his jetpack, it would take him those few hours to walk back.

Plenty of time to come up with an excuse as to where he had gone.

"I'm going to get you to a safe launch point and I've set in the hyperspace coordinates." Again, he took her hand, tracing her fingers lightly over the dash. Getting the message, she felt out the surrounding buttons to the right ones she would need to activate. She lingered over them, committing them to memory.

"Don't take any painkillers until you get into hyperspace. You have enough fuel so you should be alright."

"Why are you helping me?" she asked.

Because I love you, a part of him cried out. Tahl was dazzling starlight in the Force, and even blocking out his senses so he was unable to see it, he remembered the light of her. As he remembered the coldness of her passing.

Obi-Wan found it hard to fault Qui-Gon, both despite and because of the knowledge that Anakin would have succumbed to the Dark.

Qui-Gon had raised and loved Xanatos who had betrayed him. Feemor had been murdered by a Mandalorian along with a group of younglings. Xanatos both tried to bomb the Temple and everyone in it then had killed himself rather than face justice.

Qui-Gon had been brave and committed himself to Tahl, a form of marriage that was uncommon and discouraged but as traditional as the origins of the Order itself. Only for Tahl to be betrayed and taken away from him mere days later, dying in his arms.

Add to that Dooku's leaving the Order, it was no surprise that Qui-Gon had been less than gracious when it came to taking on a new Padawan tied to all the drama that Yoda stirred up when the mood took him.

"Fett?" Tahl asked, bringing back his attention to her.

He swallowed audibly and gave the answer that he hoped might help change things, though his hope wasn't great. "Because the Jetii are among the only powers in this galaxy great enough to challenge Mandalore. Death Watch wants you involved." He knew his next words could damn Satine and her family if this timeline repeated his past.

Obi-Wan had found that he had, in many ways, literally changed the course of history. But some things continued just as they had before. "The Kryze Clan wants you involved," he confided. "But you have to tell your leaders to stay out of it. The Republic wants our system in chaos so they can exploit us."

Tahl faced him and he could feel her mentally pressing at his shields.

He likely still presented as a Force sensitive. He had always been above average at shielding, but not that he fueled it with emotion, Tahl didn't have a prayer in britching his barriers.

Unfortunately, under close scrutiny, he also likely now appeared as a Dark Sider.

Tahl asked, "You're helping me in the hopes that the Order won't help you in the future?"

"You can't even tell the difference between the True Mandalorians and the Watch, how could you possibly help us? You only know our culture as far as the violence of our histories have intersected. You would only do more damage than good. Even if you could help us finally end the war, whoever you fought with would be dishonoured for relying on outside help, on Jetiiese warriors for aid. Tell your Order to stay away from us and our politics. The only reason Mandalore is a part of the Republic at all is because the Order forced us to join. To us, you're no better than the Imperial Sith."

Tahl tilted her head, and even though she was hurt and exhausted, she half smiled at him, "You know your history."

In answer, he said, "My clan leader is Jaster Mereel, the Mand'alor."

"I thought whoever had to have the Dark Saber to be the Mand'alor," she remarked. "Neither Jaster Mereel nor Jango Fett possess it."

Obi-Wan scoffed, "A trinket doesn't make the Mand'alor anymore than a crown makes a king. True power is gifted by earning the respect of the people. That's something the Vizsla Clan doesn't have, all they offer is fear and domination."

"I am beginning to think the Jedi and the True Mandalorians aren't as different as I was led to believe."

She wasn't wrong.

Force, had he missed her.

Regrettably, however, they were almost to the safe point and he only had a few minutes left in her company.

"Just promise me you will talk to your Order about us. My clan wouldn't approve of me helping you, but I know the Jetii aren't evil even if you do a lot of stupid things."

Tahl twitched.

Master Jedi were fun to pick at. Anakin had broken Obi-Wan from reacting to any such taunts long ago.

"You have my word, Mandalorian Fett. I thank you for saving my life and your wisdom."

"Good," he said in Mando'a because truly the language had become a part of him now.

"If I may give a bit of advice of my own?" Tahl offered as he slowed the ship.

He turned to her, "Sure."

She reached out a hand, and despite his helmet it was if he could feel her gentle gesture on his cheek.

The Jedi weren't overly touchy people beyond childhood because all touch between Force sensitives was incredibly intimate. It was typically impolite to touch a teenager or young Knight without their explicit consent or deep friendship.

It was one reason Obi-Wan hadn't been overly affectionate toward Anakin. Considering his background, it had been hard for Obi-Wan to gauge where Anakin gave and didn't give consent.

"Let go," Tahl said softly. "Let go of your hatred, little warrior. Whoever hurt you, whoever betrayed you, your anger hurts you more than it could ever hurt them. Like holding on to hot coals with the intent of throwing them. A fine weapon it may be, but at a severe cost to yourself."

He swallowed, her words hurting him in ways he didn't want to look at too closely. "The galaxy betrayed me," he said. "My anger is a shield against it."

She smiled, cupping his helmet though she made no motion to remove it. "Compassion is honourable, young warrior, but if you protect too fiercely, too ruthlessly, it becomes self-serving. Self-serving at the cost of everything you fight to protect."

They were the words, the lesson, that he needed to give to Anakin and had failed to do so, but for himself?

He had already lost everything. In trusting the Force, that great power, it had given him hope only to dash him against the cliffside. Blessed and cursed him in the same breath. He was sick of being its play thing, and he didn't really care if he got hurt in the process.

He had already been hurt past endurance.

He caught her hands again with his gloved ones, pulling them away from his face as he said, "You are ready to go, I'll leave some rations with you. May your flight be swift."

She nodded, "May the Force be with you."

On instinct, he almost said the correct refrain as he hit the button to the hatch, instead, he said in Mando'a, "Ret'urcye mhi."

Maybe we will meet again.

Today was one of those days he did feel blessed to meet her again, to speak with her again, even if it was brief and coloured by deceit.

She caught his hand one last time as he stood to leave, he could feel her try to share her light with him.

He almost let her.

Almost.

He pulled back from her, physically and metaphysically, disembarking into the wilds of Melida/Daan without looking back at her.

He stayed to watch the ship leave the atmosphere and let out a sigh of relief when the gleam of durasteel winked away in a successful launch into hyperspace.

Not five minutes later his buir called him and Obi-Wan took the call.

Jango's voice sounded pissed, "Where the hell are you?"

"Scouting," Obi-Wan answered.

"Obi'ika," Jango growled.

Obi-Wan smothered a smile, knowing that if he did his buir would hear it. Jango tried very, very had to be a good buir, and Obi-Wan loved him for it, but sometimes that affection was communicated through aggression.

Having raised Anakin, Obi-Wan understood all too well Jango's frustration.

Which —unfortunately for his buir— didn't mean he stopped doing the frustrating behaviour. Obi-Wan knew his place was on the front lines, whether or not Jango, Jaster, and, once upon a time, Cody, liked it.

"I'll be back before dawn. I'm safe enough. Don't waste time looking for me, I'm not lost."

He cut the connection before Jango could swear at him.

Jango was a lot more expressive than Qui-Gon had been when he was growing up.

By embracing his hatred toward the Force, Obi-Wan had accomplished something he had never been able to do before. That was to say, he was able to no longer fear not being accepted. If he didn't care what the Council thought of him, if he didn't care what the Force thought of him, then he had no reason to fear being rejected by his found family or had zero reservations against attachments.

Besides that, today he was able to breathe easier because he knew now that Jango was never going to know about his history, never going to know that he was once a Jetii, not when a Master as insightful as Master Tahl couldn't recognize him. No, his secret was safe and his path forward was clearer.

With his family, his aliit, behind him, he could walk tall no matter their adversary.

This was the Way.


AN: Thoughts, remarks, capybaras, or feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

 

Padawan Quinlan Vos was very much aware that he was a pain in the sheb, but that didn't mean his Master was less so.

"What are you looking for?" Quin asked as they made another circle.

Master Tholme paused, then said without feeling, "I can't tell if she is dead or gone. Or if she was transported to or away from that compound. Her pain… it lingers in the Force."

"Good thing we brought all that medical supplies with us," Quin said sarcastically. They had brought medical supplies, but it had gone up in flames when they 'landed.'

Tholme didn't waste breath correcting his cheek. Among his peers, Quin was something of an exception, not because he was so much better or so special, but because he was different.

He had come to the Temple later than most younglings, trained in part by other non-Jedi Force sensitives. Force sensitivity was as common on Kiffu as it was On Dathomir.

Quin had been a tracker by the time he could crawl. Master Tholme met him on a mission, took note of his truthfully horrid shielding, and he had stayed to help train Quin. Not as a Jedi initiate but as a potential Guardian of Kiffu like his great-grandmother had been. Tholme had even taken him to the Temple on Coruscant at age five just for a visit, but not before the Council.

Master Tholme was about as unorthodox as they came.

But after Quin's aunt had slaughtered his parents and forced him to relive their last moments, his Master had decided that Kiffu didn't deserve him. As Quin never wanted to go back to his homeworld that had suited him just fine.

Even if his grasp of Basic had been almost as bad as his accent.

Even if he couldn't stand the loose fabric of Jedi robes most days.

Even if Coruscant set of his touch-clevionce like a spice addict perched on a concert speaker.

Even if he didn't at all fit in with the other Jedi, it was better than staying on Kiffu. Master Tholme hadn't tried to make him into someone he wasn't, instead, he had embraced all of his oddities and encouraged him to be outwardly Kiffar, who, to put it kindly, were considered bounty hunters and animal trackers.

So it was rare for his Master to correct his speech when they weren't in the company of others.

That didn't mean his Master liked him back talking, but there were a number of things Quin didn't like about his Master either.

Like stranding them on a hostile planet with a local civil war going on as well as the glorious addition of Mandalorians involved.

Tholme suddenly came to halt, closing his eyes and breathing in, looking with senses of decades of honed —Force assisted— instincts.

"We need to separate," he said, suddenly in a definitive voice. "I'll go to the compound. If Tahl isn't there, I will steal a ship and circle back to you. I need you to use your own gifts and try tracking her through the arid-lands."

Quin nodded, tracking on nothing, especially if she hadn't been transported by foot would be difficult.

But if she had been or was being tortured, he wasn't ashamed to say he would prefer his Master be the first on the scene. Despite his Master's assertions that it was just his age, Quin still lacked confidence that he could handle things like torture since their last mission had gone so far south after he had been overwhelmed in violent vision while they had been fighting. Death was easy, well no, not easy, but easier than prolonged suffering.

"Be careful, Padawan mine," Tholme warned.

Quin sighed, "I will be."

"The Force will be with you."

"It always is," Quin retorted a tad bitterly.

Sometimes the Force's presence was part of the problem, though he knew he wouldn't be the same person without it.

They parted ways and Quin had the joy of chasing shadows across a lifeless land in the dead of night with nothing but moonlight to define shape to anything. Okay, maybe lifeless was uncharitable, but there was nothing to write home about when it came to the sproutings of shrubs and little scorpions fleeing from shrews.

However, the path the Force was having him follow grew more and more interesting the longer he walked.

A strange broken anger stained the Force, like a shade of cream over a shade of white in its subtlety. He couldn't define it completely, righteous in some ways, lost in others. The only reason he noticed at all was because it seemed entwined with the Master Jedi's Force signature. Her pain was apparent to him as was her relief.

Traces like this were hard to distinguish unless they were recent, a rainfall could disrupt it like pollen from stone, but there couldn't have been more than an hour or two between them.

Quin dropped to his knee for the dozenth time, his braids slipping over his shoulder as he tried to feel anything from the ship that had disrupted the ground here, changing the impression of the breeze.

The Force was in everything, even things seemingly without life, the Force permeated. Closing his eyes, he finally got his first glimpse rather than just emotions. Master Tahl, blindfolded, her injuries covered in bacta patches. Her wrists caught in gloved hands of a Mandalorian warrior.

She offered him comfort, but he was the one who had saved her.

It changed everything Quin thought he knew about the Mandalorians. A Mando helping a Jedi, what?

He was so preoccupied with the notion that he almost didn't sense him.

Almost.

Quin stood, drawing his lightsaber, the green light cutting the night.

A visor of a Mandalorian's armour gleamed and the owner of it already had his blaster up and aimed.

Quin froze, reaching out with his feelings, recognizing this warrior as the one who had saved Tahl, half of the pair he had been tracking through the night.

But no…

There was something else familiar about this one, something…

Quin didn't push with the Force, he searched just the outside aura and the presence of the warrior flinched, like raising a hand toward a tooka kitten.

That presence was painted with darkness, with red and greys, anger, sorrow, and suffering.

But not evil, not power.

It was an odd thing, something he had never encountered before. This was definitely a Force sensitive who definitely had power but he wasn't… wasn't corrupted.

Who would turn to the Dark Side without reaching for the power? Quin wasn't even sure that's what it was but he couldn't think up another reason why someone would feel so dark and yet so… good.

And familiar.

The Force twirled between them as if laughing and Quin sucked in breath, finally recognizing him.

His arms dropped and managed to rasp out around his tight throat, "Obi-Wan?"

The Mando- Obi-Wan lowered his blaster.

Quin cleared his throat, "Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan Kenobi, I know it's you." He extinguished his lightsaber.

Obi-Wan holstered his weapon and took off his helmet, "Quin?"

In the light of the moon, Quin could see him. His face was a bit thinner and his hair was still short but longer than it had been. Quin had been the one to cut his hair including the tuft that would have been his Padawan braid so he could travel more safely to Stewjon.

Quin charged him, crushing him into a hug, "You kriffing idiot! I thought you were dead! I thought you-" He choked off his words and hugged him harder. "You idiot. You kriffing karking idiot!"

Obi-Wan, who had dropped his helmet, hugged him back just as fiercely in wordless answer.

"I missed you so much," Quin said into his friend's ear.

Obi-Wan pulled back a bit to say, "I missed you too."

Quin wasn't about to let the brat go but he pulled away enough to glare down at him, "Why didn't you come back?"

Obi-Wan swallowed but didn't move away, "I found my aliit, my family."

And what did that make him?

Quin grit his teeth, "You promised."

"I promised to stay safe, not to come back," Obi-Wan said with a half smile.

Quin stepped back then, "You think this is funny? We thought you died. We had a funeral for you-"

"I wanted to tell you," Obi-Wan cut him off. "But I've been fighting in a civil war against Death Watch for the last two years. There were no guarantees, there are no guarantees that I will survive."

"Kark that, you should have told-"

"I was eleven!" Obi-Wan interrupted. "Do you really think the Order would have let me go?"

"The Order isn't a cult, Obi-Wan. They would have and they do release care to younglings."

"My aliit are not biological. You know how Mando and Jetii relations are, I was a minor. The Order wouldn't have given up custody until I came of age and the Mandalorians wouldn't have wanted a Jedi youngling."

The last one cleared his head of all other protests. "Wait, you mean they don't know? They don't know you were raised in the Temple?"

How would he even have kept that a secret?

"They don't know I'm a Force sensitive. My buir isn't likely to turn on me because of it but it's not worth bringing up."

"The hell it isn't," Quin snapped. "Your aura is messed up. You were so good at shielding, now? Now spotting you isn't difficult but you read like a dark sider."

"War isn't conducive to having a light and happy spirit," Obi-Wan said with palpable bitterness.

"Then come home," Quin said.

"No."

"Why? Why? Why would you choose them over us?"

"The Force brought me here," Obi-Wan said. "Mandalore needs me. But I'm no longer doing this because the Force told me to. I'm done wanting to be Jedi, in serving some greater power that doesn't give a damn about our suffering. I'm here because they are my family, because Mandalore deserves better. They deserve to find their way without the Republic or the Stih trying to ruin that."

"The Sith? Do you even hear yourself?" Quin asked. "This is arrogance, Obi-Wan, pure arrogance."

"I know myself, Quin. This is my choice, they are my family and my choice."

"And what am I? Or Master Feemor and the rest of the Order? We mourned you. We love you and we are your family."

"Master Feemor died because of me," Obi-Wan retorted.

Quin shook his head, "No, Obi-Wan, he didn't. He made it back to the ship with the youngling. He returned to the Temple without you. Master Feemor couldn't sense you afterward, and he did look. He was devastated, we all were. Where were you? How did you survive the bombing?"

That seemed to bring Obi-Wan to a halt, and his voice was weak when asked, "Master Feemor survived?"

"Yes," Quin said. "How did you?"

Obi-Wan was quiet for a long moment, "The Mandalorians… I was pushed into the river when the bomb went off and I was carried downstream where my aliit found me."

"If you have kept away blaming yourself for Feemor's death then come home," Quin pleaded. "We miss you, miss you."

Obi-Wan shook his head, "No, I'm sorry, Quin, but I can't do that. This is my home."

"Meldaan?"

"What?" Obi-Wan asked, frowning before he got it and waved it away. "No, not here with the True Mandalorians. I belong with them."

Quin couldn't help but gape, "You joined the terrorist fraction?"

"What?" Obi-Wan asked again. "We aren't terrorists. Quin, the True Mandalorian Codex is like a less spiritual version of the Jedi code, we aren't terrorists."

"Actions speak louder than words," Quin retorted and pointed up at the sky. "They shot us out of the sky."

Obi-Wan frowned at him, "Our ships have been grounded for weeks. The di'kuts in the atmosphere are Death Watch. You know, the actual terrorists. Honestly, Quin, it's in their name, Death Watch."

Quin blinked, "Oh… I guess we had-"

"Faulty information?" Obi-Wan finished. "Yeah, just one more tick on historical failures of the Jedi Order with Mandalore."

Quin frowned, "That's not fair-"

"The hell it isn't. Anytime Mandalore stabilizes, either the Jedi or Sith kark things up for them."

Quin was pretty sure that was a gross misinterpretation of Mandalore's dark history but he stuck with what he knew, "Mandalorians hunt Jedi."

"Yeah, well, Jedi aren't always the peacemakers they proclaim to be."

Quin flinched, "Have you really come to hate us so much?"

Since things had begun to change and Mace Windu joined the Senate, the mistakes of their past had been brought up with more frequency.

Obi-Wan ran his hands over his face, "No, Quin… I just… I can't do it anymore. I no longer have faith that the Force is leading us down the right path and I can't… I can't go backwards anymore."

Quin stepped toward him, "You're a Force sensitive, Obi-Wan. Jedi or no, the Force will always be a part of you."

Even by moonlight, he could see Obi-Wan's eyes darken. "I don't want it."

"That's not a choice you have."

"I'm of age now, my life is my own. I don't have to do anything."

It dawned on Quin then, the aggression in his Force shielding finally making sense.

In the absence of light, there was darkness.

He couldn't keep the horror out of his voice, "You've been cutting yourself off from the Force."

"I don't need it."

"Obi-Wan!"

"You aren't going to change my mind on this."

"You've always been stubborn, but I never thought you were stupid. That's like willfully plucking out your own eyes."

"I don't need it," he insisted.

"What if something happens? What if you lose control?"

Obi-Wan shrugged, "I'll cross that bridge when I get there."

Quin narrowed his gaze, thinking over their discussion thus far, and asked a question he didn't want the answer to. "Are you afraid your new family will hurt you if you reveal the fact that you're a Force sensitive to them?"

"No, I think that's unlikely."

"But you aren't certain."

"It's not your-"

"The hell it isn't!" Quin exclaimed again, bridging the gap between them, putting his hands on his shoulders, and tried not to shake him. "I love you! You're my best friend in the entire galaxy! Your safety and happiness will always be my business."

Obi-Wan laid his hand over Quin's heart, "I'm sorry for the pain I've caused you, but this is my path."

Quin's com chimed and he answered it.

Obi-Wan put his hand on Quin's wrist, a warning.

A request.

-Padawan?

"Master, how goes it?" Quin said, flippant but lacking his normal tone of snark.

-I'm going to be delayed until morning, but I believe I found a transport. I also found where Tahl was being held. Everyone there was dead, I think she had help getting out.

Obi-Wan's hand tightened over his wrist.

Quin swallowed before answering, "I had a peek through my visions. My guess is that she, with the help of a Mando, flew out of range of the blockade over the city. She got away, and she was at least alive and bandaged when she took off."

Obi-Wan nodded.

-Hopeful. Anything else to report?

Obi-Wan seemed to be holding his breath.

"No," Quin lied.

-Very well. I'll com before I leave the hanger. Find somewhere to hide from any possible scouts. I'll com you again for a location.

"Yes, Master. May the Force be with you."

-And with you.

Quin pocketed the comlink and just stared down at his lost friend.

So lost, he didn't even know he needed finding.

Obi-Wan bit his lip and asked, "We have time… Do you… I mean, would you like to meet my family?"

Quin had to bite his tongue before he said something hurtful.

Hurt and guilt would not bring Obi-Wan home, and because he was still touching him. Quin was getting flashes of the combat his friend had been through, could feel the strain building as he shielded himself unwisely from the Force.

Most would say it would be impossible to shield yourself from the Force itself.

But Quin had done it after watching his parents die.

After living through the perspective of both dying and being their killer, he had fought the Force, tried turning his back on it.

He hadn't been successful, instead, he had almost fallen to the Dark Side. It didn't surprise him at all that someone like Obi-Wan who had a natural gift for shielding could walk that razor's edge of using power to negate power, to use feeling to negate feeling.

But Quin knew that no one could hold that line forever.

Eventually, Obi-Wan would be broken down, and Quin had to ensure that when he did, he would come back to the Order for help.

"Alright, I'm eager to learn who 'your' people are."

Obi-Wan frowned, "Break down your lightsaber. Encase the crystal in metal so no one can catch its glow."

"Excuse you."

"Come on, Quin," Obi-Wan almost whined. "You can put it back together in seconds."

"You want me to hide myself." More pressingly, walk into a Mando camp with no weapon.

"You're a Shadow in training, isn't that literally your profession? I can't introduce you as my friend if you're a Jedi."

"Why?"

"Because this war has everyone pissed off, throwing a Jedi into the mix isn't going to help."

"You know, you're not really selling me on these people being good for you, right?"

"Come on, Quin. Neither Mandalorians nor the Jedi have unfounded reasons for not trusting each other. But I'm telling you, that these warriors are good people. Jango Fett adopted me even though he thought I was from an enemy clan."

"So who are the child-nappers now?"

Obi-Wan shoved him a bit, "Not like that. He needed my permission to do so and I could divorce him whenever I liked if it came to that."

"So, just like the Jedi then?"

Obi-Wan smirked, "Pretty much, just don't try to tell them that. They are more proud than Ki-Adi Mundi."

Quin sighed, "Fine, I'll meet your new bounty hunter family."

"Said the space wizard," Obi-Wan quipped.

Quin dropped his forehead to Obi-Wan's which seemed to relax him more even than the hug had, "I've missed you so much."

Obi-Wan let out a long breath and said, "I love you too."

They stayed like that for a minute beneath the moonlight before Obi-Wan took his hand and led him across the barren land.

"How was Master Tahl?" Quin asked. "Did she recognize you? I know you don't know her well or anything but you've seen each other around."

"No, she didn't. The Melida injured her eyes. I'm honestly not sure if she will ever regain her sight."

Quin's gut twisted, "But she will live?"

Obi-Wan nodded, thankfully not putting back on the helmet he had picked up as they walked. "Yeah, she should. She had enough fuel and was able to make the jump to hyperspace."

"Thank you."

"Don't mention it."

Quin sighed and pulled out his saber, using the Force to break it down, looping the pieces together so though the pieces didn't look like a lightsaber, nothing was likely to fall out of his pocket. He even wrapped a thin piece of metal around the kyber to keep it safe from view.

"How did you know where she would be if you have been shielding yourself from the Force?"

He shrugged, "I had a vision, I guess."

"So you haven't been completely successful in keeping the Force out."

"Quin, if I was completely successful, I would be dead. It's in everything. I just don't actively use it."

"Bet that makes life hard."

He shrugged, "Mandalorians train to be the best, they are the equal to Jedi without the Force."

"Right. And that's why the most famous Mandalorian in history was a Temple drop out."

"Quin."

"Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan sighed, "Promise not to reveal me or yourself."

"I wouldn't endanger you, but you need to know how disappointed I am in you for endangering yourself and playing these games."

"I can accept that, but you aren't going to change my mind."

Quin sighed, "Of course not, because admitting you're wrong would be the simple thing to do."

Obi-Wan flashed him a grin, "You think any of this is simple?"

Quin frowned at him.

Obi-Wan bumped his shoulder back, "So… Mace is the Senator of Coruscant and Kashyyyk?"

Quin smiled, "Things change, and Obi-Wan, they are so much better. The Corps recentred at the Knight's Temple."

"The Corps-members and their families?"

"Yep, the creches are giant now."

"Bet that helps with new Padawans being less afraid about failing out."

Quin nodded, "A lot of initiates are choosing a Corp over pursuing being a Knight. Especially the Explorecorps. With more people it feels bigger, more colourful, just more, but the peace is there. Also, Wookies are great."

Obi-Wan grinned, "Yeah, they are. 'The Gate to the Underworld' Academy sounds cool."

Quin laughed, "They have to keep the ages young right now, but Alderaan and a few other Senators and rich people are following the Jedi's example."

Obi-Wan reached over and tugged on his Padawan braid, distinct from the others by the cords that wrapped around it, markers of his missions.

"I like your braids."

Quin shrugged, "Sian Jeisel, we ended up on a mission together for three month with not much to do."

"Suits you, easier to change for missions if you needed to."

Quin snorted, "Of course you would see a fashion choice as something practical."

"Tell me it wasn't why you kept them?"

Quin might have kept them in reality because they were neater and because of that they reminded him of Obi-Wan, but he nodded all the same and said, "Yeah, more styles to annoy my Master with."

"Tholme doesn't honestly care."

"On his good days," he quipped.

Obi-Wan looked dramatically astonished, "Wait, he has though?"

Quin smiled but his heart hurt knowing that so I-Wan depart with him.

As they walked, he tried not to pick too hard at Obi-Wan's shield that radiated pain. Obi-Wan was so gifted with the Force, more powerful than Quin, certainly, but more than that…

Obi-Wan always had such a beautiful relationship with the Force. Everyone who knew Obi-Wan envied him for it. Maybe he didn't always hear it or actively acknowledge it, but it was so clear to those who wanted to see it was Obi-Wan's deep roots with the Light Side of the Force.

And how the Force seemed to love him in turn.

To see Obi-Wan not wanting that, was like seeing a true love partner in the middle of a messy divorce.

Of course, Obi-Wan's aura was quickly overshadowed by the …well, the personalities of the Mandos camped around fire hidden in a cliff side cave.

A Mando in blue and polished beskar stood up and, if Quin had to guess, swearing at Obi-Wan.

Although, Quin felt more worry than anger from the man with tightly curled dark hair and russet skin. He had left his helmet by his seat and was gesturing wildly.

It wasn't until Obi-Wan responded in turn, also with hand gestures, that he realized that it was a form of sign language. He caught the words Kiffar and his own name before Obi-Wan switched to Basic.

"Quin, this is my father, Jango Fett. Sitting is my grandfather, Jaster Mereel, then Agni, Maas, and Micah."

The others followed suit on switching to Basic.

Maas, a young man with broad shoulders, sniggered. He too spoke while signing, "Nice accent there, Alor'ika."

Obi-Wan flipped him off.

Micah, the pale boy with black hair signed without speaking.

Maas grinned a wolf's smile as he signed and spoke, "He sounds like a Core politician."

"Enough," Jango Fett, the Jango Fett who was on a wanted list along with the Jaster Mereel. "Obi'ika where did you go? And how did a boy from Kiffar get here?"

"My father and I crashed," Quin supplied, Obi-Wan signing in translation.

"Did he survive?" Jango asked with startling intensity.

Most people didn't want to ask that or began with false sympathy when it came to facing a stranger's grief. To this man's credit, he seemed to actually care.

"Yes," Quin said, "He's off stealing a ship, it was just fate I ran into Obi'ika."

Obi-Wan glared at him and signed something that clearly was not a translation.

Micah smiled widely and asked something.

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes and asked Quin, "He asked if you are broken too? By which he means flexible."

Quin shrugged, "Not as broken."

Obi-Wan's flexibility was scary even for a Jedi.

Obi-Wan translated as he spoke, again adding something at the end.

Micah laughed, a somewhat coughing sound that indicated that he was deaf, not mute. He patted the seat on a raised rock and Quin sat, Obi-Wan on his other side. Micah handed him a ration that Quin accepted.

He wouldn't be getting any food likely until they got back into space.

What followed was Obi-Wan translating between him and Micah swapping stories about the trouble they had gotten into in their respective pasts with Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan took all the teasing gracefully and he laughed right along with them.

Quin would have enjoyed it more if he didn't have to alter so much of his speech and leave out so many names to keep the Jedi and the Temple out of the stories.

Which was mildly difficult considering that had been their home. Though referencing sneaking out into the city was easily vague enough. The adults for the most part just listened.

Two of the warriors, Agni and Maas, opted to get some sleep before dawn came while Micah insisted on staying up with Obi-Wan, knowing that Quin would be off soon.

It was bittersweet, but somehow, the Force seemed pleased, as if —despite Obi-Wan's shielding against it— this is what the Force intended to happen.

All is as the Force wills it.

Quin just prayed he was doing the right thing in letting Obi-Wan hold onto his secrets and that one day he would return to them.

Beyond that survive, because a growing part of him did worry that Obi-Wan was right not to tell the Order he had lived.

In war, chances of surviving were always up in the air, especially if your grandfather was Jaster Mereel and Jango Fett.

Sure, they might be two of the most deadly warriors of their day when you discounted the Jedi, but if the True Mandalorians were the good guys —as Obi-Wan insisted— then that meant Death Watch had a lot of pull around the galaxy to muddle the matter that deeply.

If that were true, things on Mandalore were far more complicated and far more deadly than Quin wanted to imagine.


Jango kept exchanging glances with Jaster as story after story from Quinlan Vos, a Kiffar from the planet of Kiffu, painted a rather intimate friendship with Obi-Wan.

There was nothing from Quinlan's stories, save for training and sparring that made Jango think he was in any way associated with Mandalore or Death Watch.

Which begged the question, where had Quinlan and Obi-Wan grown up?

They made it sound as if they had known each other for years.

It was confusing, more so because of the language aspect.

Quin seemed to speak absolutely no Mando'a.

Conversely, up until today, Jango had never heard Obi'ika speaking anything but Mando'a since finding him on Stewjon.

Except Obi'ika's Basic was flawless, and as Maas had noted, deeply Core influenced. It was peculiar and confusing and made Jango doubt everything he thought he knew about his ad'ika.

Jaster seemed to think the same as frown deepened, probably doing the same mental gymnastics Jango was, looking for the connection between a Kiffar to a Death Watch youngling.

Even Quinlan's self-censor, indicated by his slight hesitation and rephrasing, indicated that Obi-Wan and his mysterious friend were keeping secrets. The Kiffar teen was a good liar but he couldn't be older than seventeen years old and still had some growing to do in the art of deception.

At least, Jango was relatively sure that the Kiffar wasn't a Watch agent and that Obi'ika hadn't betrayed their location to the enemy —even inadvertently. Of course, Jango still didn't know where Obi'ika had disappeared to the previous afternoon.

Perhaps because he saw Quinlan's ship crash? Or perhaps intercepted a help signal? Maybe they had even kept in touch over the years, though that seemed unlikely.

No, the only thing that was truly clear was that Quinlan seemed to adore Obi-Wan and Obi'ika in turn seemed overjoyed to have someone from his past beside him.

It wouldn't have been so unsettling if the only name he had from Obi-Wan's past was Cody not Quinlan who appeared to be a closer and dearer friend than Micah was to Obi-Wan now.

But what really got Jango, what halted the questions in his mind was when he and Jaster escorted the two boys further from camp so Quinlan's buir could collect his ad. Micah stayed on watch with Agni who had woken to prepare his morning tea.

In the light of morning, Obi'ika's eyes were a flawless blue, ocean deep and brightly hued.

Blue.

Not grey.

Blue.

Jango couldn't take his gaze away from his ad'ika who was smiling up at Quin like he was the brightest star in the sky. Not until Obi-Wan decided to put his helmet back on as they waited for Quinlan's unnamed father.

Why had Obi-WAN's eyes turn blue, because he was happy or sad? Only Jango had seen both emotions from his ad'ika and never seen them go blue before, only lighter or darker grey.

When the stolen ship did arrive, landing a few yards away, the two boys said their final goodbyes.

They hugged each other, like brothers, like friends who never thought they would meet again and who never thought to once more in this life.

Quinlan whispered something near Obi'ika's ear.

Jango didn't quite hear what Obi-Wan said but Quinlan raised his voice to be heard over the ship's engine that did not turn off even as the hatch lowered.

"What does that mean?" the Kiffar asked.

"Maybe we will meet again."

Quin flashed Obi'ika a large smile, "No maybes." And he went to the hatch, climbing up the later and looking back with profound sadness that was at odd with the boy's youth.

Obi'ika signed goodbye, leaving Jango wondering —again at a loss— about the Stewjoni's background and the quiet burdens he carried and never shared.

Jaster signed while Obi'ika watched Quinlan's ship disappear from view, "Not the Watch. Not just a Stewjoni."

Which begged the question, Where was he from then? What was his history?

Jango knew better than to think he could simply ask those questions head on. Obi'ika was too sly for his own good, but now that he knew there was more history that went beyond the Watch, he would listen for it.

Not that it mattered overly much, whatever Obi'ika's past was, that didn't change who was today, nor who he was to Jango and their clan.

If only Obi-Wan understood that.


AN: Thoughts, puppies, and feedback?

Chapter Text

AN: Lots of politics in this one. Ah, world building, so much to do, so much to add.

Chapter 13 - Jetiiese

"Padawan," Master Tholme began as they entered hyperspace. "Why were you hugging a Mandalorian?"

Quin grimaced, "I made friends."

"With Mandalorians?"

Quin didn't answer, instead, he took out his disassembled lightsaber and put it carefully back together.

"At least you were wise enough to not reveal yourself," Tholme said after a moment of observing him.

"Is it really that dangerous to be a Force sensitive among them?"

Master Tholme nodded, "It can be, and you never know who is from what background. It is less a clan thing and more an individual's belief in superstition. Younglings have historically been abandoned and warriors kicked out of their clans, especially those of bloodlines from indigenous bloodlines. While not as common as those from Kiffu, but those who present, tend to present strongly. Some have even attributed some of their warriors with advanced speed and strength as having Force sensitivity."

"Like Obi-Wan," Quin said softly.

His Master nodded, "Yes. Unfortunately, such individuals who stay in their system come to hate their own nature, if they ever learn of it, and will turn that hatred outwards."

Quin bit his lip and despised that Obi-Wan might have a legitimate reason for his stupid choices. Obi-Wan should have known better, but then, Quin wasn't immersed in Mandalorian culture. He didn't have to live with them day to day nor consider them family. As much as he didn't want to, Quin had to trust him. Had to trust that the Force had a reason to lead Obi-Wan to where he was.

Even if it meant deceiving his own Master, "The boy I met, Fett, he saved Tahl."

Master Tholme let out a sigh of relief, "That is good to hear, we can only hope that such allies will be the ones to take the throne when Mandalore settles on a royal family."

Quin sank down in his seat, depressed in the realization that Obi-Wan would see Mandalore to peace, and until he did, would never return home.

Only, everyone knew that peace on Mandalore was nothing more than a fantasy.

"Be at peace," Tholme consoled. "Many younglings are being brought to us rather than being abandoned to the wilderness now that the Corps have appeared more accessible in the Mid Rim."

Quin nodded silently. And though that was good, it wasn't what he was worried about. No, he was worried about his friend who was crippling himself while caught in a culture and a war that appeared to be more dangerous than the path to becoming a Jedi Shadow.

Quin could only hope that, unlike Obi-Wan, the Force hadn't turned away from him.


On one hand, Obi-Wan knew that Agni was both Maas's father and teacher but that really didn't prepare him for what the older man would come up with.

What was the best way to end a civil war?

Get rid of the weapons.

What was the best way to take out a navy?

Blow them up.

So the resulting fireworks and explosions for all of the Melida and the Daan's weapons went up in flames, up and up, toward the Death Watch blockade.

A blockade that wasn't ready for a ground attack.

Obi-Wan wasn't even completely sure how they had rigged the land bombs into a long range weapons.

Of course, there was a reason why Agni and Maas were both considered Weapon Masters. They were more than just blacksmiths, they were incredibly experienced engineers and, apparently, pyrotechnicians

To the explosion of fifty percent of the blockade and the retreat of the rest, there was the roaring of approval of the Young.

Obi-Wan could only gaze upon Agni with awe as the warrior shook out his silver hair like he was modeling for a holo advertisement.

Micah signed to Obi-Wan, 'Do you think his Buir knew who he would be when they named him A-G-N-I, fire?'

Obi-Wan signed back, 'I am somewhat afraid to ask who his Buir were.'

Buir a word that could refer to parents, mother, or father.

"Come, Bu'ad, help us with negotiations, the Young have agreed to have you as their representative," Jaster called to Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan nodded and followed his ba'buir down to the camp located between the Daan and the Melida's borderlines, to do what he did best; negotiate.

Micah and Jango joined him as Maas and Agni secured the area.

Jango had kept giving Obi-Wan odd looks the entire week since Quin had left. But whatever Jango was thinking, he was almost certain that the 'Jetii' option hadn't crossed his mind yet.

Quin hadn't dropped any hits and though Obi-Wan couldn't help his accent, it didn't match Quin's.

For now, his secrets were safe and his place among his people was not in jeopardy.


Tahl couldn't currently see, but she would. She was told that she would regain at least fifty percent of her vision and likely upwards of eighty percent.

Having feared losing her sight completely, she had opted to get glasses rather than risk eye surgery that had eleven percent damaging her eyesight further.

Still, even with her eyes bandaged, she was able to identify her lover, Qui-Gon, as he entered the room, followed by Mace Windu and Plo Koon.

Qui-Gon sat beside her, kissing her knuckles. "How are you?"

She smiled, "Hopeful, grateful. The Force looked out for me."

"We come with good news," Plo said. "The Master Padawan pair who attempted to rescue you, are returning. They sustained no harm, save for a lost ship. Additionally, Melida/Daan has come to peace, under the guidance, remarkably, from the True Mandalorians."

Tahl squeezed Qui-Gon's hands, "That's why I requested your presence." The healers, who had been empowered by the joining of the Medicorps ingrained at the Temples, hadn't allowed her to speak with the Council until now. "It was a True Mandalorian who saved me."

Mace sighed, "Mandalore races toward the end of a war and yet seems to become more complex at the same rate."

"Perhaps not more complex," Tahl offered. "I was told that we have misunderstood their politics. We have been told that the True Mandalorians are the terrorists, but it's not them. It is Death Watch. Mace, their name literally translates to the Death Society."

Mace nodded, "As it happens, I had a meeting with Adonai Kryze, future Duke of Mandalore who explained the same thing to me."

"Did he ask for Jedi aid?" she asked.

"Yes," Mace said slowly. "How did you know?"

"Because the boy who saved my life, who rescued me, was honest with me. He said that his clan would disapprove of his rescuing me. But do you know what he asked of me in return?"

"I'm listening," Mace said.

"That even if the Jedi helped them bring peace to Mandalore, whoever we help would be dishonored and deemed illegitimate for the Republic's, specifically, our involvement. If peace came it would be swept away swiftly."

Mace was quiet for a long moment.

Plo offered, "We can offer them asylum then, and no more."

"We cannot deny a people asking for our help," Mace said.

"Fett asked us not to get involved," Tahl said.

"Fett, as in Jango Fett?" Qui-Gon asked.

"No, he was a clansman, and he was too young to be Jango," she answered.

"So we help by not helping?" Qui-Gon asked.

"Do we have any way to reach the Mand'alor's clan?" Tahl asked. "Jango Fett is Jaster Mereel's son, and outside of Death Watch, the Mand'alor is the only universally accepted title currently recognized outside leaders of individual clans."

"Isn't Jaster Mereel a clan leader?" Qui-Gon asked.

"He is but the Mand'alor is something more. It's both an honorary and an earned title. From my research, it means more than being the mightiest leader, but being the person who epitomizes who the Mandalore people wish to be," she explained.

"The Vizsla clan contests the Mereel clan," Mace said. "As well as who the Mand'alor."

"The Vizsla clan is Death Watch, Mace," she said. "Contact the Mereel clan, confirm they don't want Jedi or Republic interference."

"That's picking a side and going around a Duke," Qui-Gon noted.

"He's not Duke yet, Mandalore is not united, yet. But we know our own history with Mandalorians," she countered. "Don't choose between them, choose our own interests. It is better for the Order that the Jedi don't enter into a Mandalorian conflict."

"Now you sound like a politician," Mace said, and though Tahl was sure his face remained unchanged, she knew he was amused.

"You are a politician," she said, not bothering to hold back her own smile.

Mace sighed, "I will do as you suggest, Master Tahl. We owe the Mereel clan a life debt for rescuing and returning you to us."

Tahl reached out to him, and though she could sense him, Mace caught her hand.

She wrapped her fingers around his, "Mace, do not lose sight of why you joined the Senate. The Republic no longer cares about the Order, not us as a people, not our younglings, not our past or future. The choices we make now, will dictate who we are in the future."

Mace sighed, holding on tighter to her hand, "I know."

It wasn't until Mace joined the Senate, until they began getting involved in Coruscant's policing and monitoring travel between the surface and the lower-levels.

What they discovered was a frightening level of corruption beyond comprehension, and the glaring realization that despite the limitations placed on the Order, the Senate had never taken over the voids they created as the Jedi left the politics to the planetary representatives.

It was a fancy way of saying that the Republic was on the cusp of ruin, and the Jedi were the clearest scapegoat if any thought to take advantage.

Yet even having identified those issues, strengthening and stabilizing the Republic, would be an uphill battle, the work of decades.

Possibly centuries.

And destruction was always an easy course to fall into then to uphold the mantles of peace.

Sometimes, it felt like they were no longer fighting for peace, but fighting to survive. The Republic was beginning to fall, and if they weren't careful, the Jedi would fall with them.


Obi-Wan flinched at the aggression on Myles face as he greeted them at the loading dock.

Jaster crossed his arms and asked shortly, "What?"

Myles shook his head, "Karking Adonai Kryze."

"What did he do now?" Jaster asked with a sigh.

"He went to the Jetiiese for help," Myles growled.

Jango gave Jaster a long look, "You have to step up, Buir. The Jetiiese?"

Obi-Wan winced at the scorn in his voice.

Jaster rubbed his face, "Mandalore is technically a part of the Republic."

"Buir!" Jango protested.

"Jaz!" Myles said in the same moment. "You can't be serious."

"Now is not the time for this debate," Jaster said.

"Then when is?" Jango asked. "Adonai is weak and he doesn't believe in his own people."

Jaster was quiet for a long moment, and for the first time, Obi-Wan thought his ba'buir might be seriously considering it.

"You know the Jetiiese involvement could undermine everything we've done. Adonai is a fool and a fool cannot lead our people, he will not survive," Jango insisted.

That was actually true, in Obi-Wan's past life, Satine's father had been killed when he asked for the Order's aid.

"I will think on it and I will speak with the other clan leaders," Jaster said.

Jango grinned and Myles let out a sigh of relief.

Because that was the most positive answer Jaster had yet given.

But the rising cheer between Jango and Myles did not last as they found their clan in chaos upon arriving at the shielded hanger that functioned as their home base.

Sinna over the last two years had grown into her womanhood and it hadn't surprised anyone when she started dating the quiet and ever steady Chakraborty.

What was surprising was seeing the two of them fighting.

The Reeve girls, Kalli, Koska, and Asara ran at Obi-Wan who knelt to catch them in his arms. The two younger girls were in tears and Koska kept saying under her breath, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's my fault, I'm sorry-"

Obi-Wan hushed her, trying to assure her it wasn't her fault just as Sinna began yelling, "I won't you take them!"

"They are my daughters, Sinna, and I will not separate them," Chakraborty said, his voice rumbling low.

"I raised them," Hallas interjected, coming up behind them.

As Agni's wife, Hallas who was the oldest female among them was of the opinion that she had raised everyone younger than her.

Chakraborty turned to her, "They don't separate families anymore. If the trade off for seeing that my daughter isn't haunted by magical night terrors, so she can touch people without-"

Sinna gestured to Obi-Wan who was holding the girls tight, Koska was buried against his side. Sinna took that as a way to prove Chakraborty wrong, "She looks fine to me!"

Jaster stepped in then, "What is going on, and why are you having this discussion in front of the ade?"

"Because he wants to give them to the Jetiiese!" Sinna roared.

Chakraborty raised his voice for the first time since Obi-Wan had met him. "I am not giving them away! We will stay together but the Jetiiese Corps can help-"

Myles growled, "Since when does everyone turn to the Jetiise for help?"

"Since my daughter hasn't been able to sleep more than an hour each night," Chakraborty said, not backing down an inch. "I don't pretend to understand the Force but it is real, and Koska was born with gifts. The Jedi Corps offer training without family ties being broken. If they try taking her away from me I will fight them, but things cannot remain as they are."

Obi-Wan was stunned at this declaration.

"You di'kut!" Sinna exclaimed. "The Jetiiese are evil and untrustworthy and-"

"Enough," Jaster called an end to the discussion. "Jango, Obi'ika, get the girls dinner and settled in for the night. The rest of you, get back on the ship."

"You can't be serious about allowing this?" Myles sputtered. "You can't take over for Adonai and allow Chakraborty to take our ade to the Jetiiese. The hypocrisy-"

"Enough!" Jaster yelled. "Jan'ika, take them, now. The rest of you, check yourselves."

Jango scooped Kalli, who had been hanging on Obi-Wan's back, as well as Asara, who allowed herself to be taken from Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan meanwhile, lifted up Koska who was crying silently into his front.

It took them an hour to get the girls down. Obi-Wan had made the girls tea, and slipped a combination of herbs into the tea that Jango had but didn't know the properties of. For Jedi with human based biology had long figured out the types of herbs and spices that could assist a Force sensitive heal or relax. If Obi-Wan had known, actually, if had really been paying attention, he could have helped Koska.

But in cutting himself off from the Force, he had missed more than he could have anticipated.

He was lost in thought, nursing his own cup of tea when Jango sat down beside him and asked, "What's on your mind, ad'ika?"

Obi-Wan debated within himself, but the issue had been brought up in suck frequency and after seeing Quin again…

It felt cowardly not to address it, "What do you think of the Jetiiese?"

Jango shrugged, "Nothing particularly good except for the fact that their magic makes them a challenge in a fight."

"So you don't think Chakraborty is doing the right thing for Koska."

"If you had asked me that a few years ago, no, but now? The Jetiiese have put themselves at the mercy of public opinion, at the Republic's mercy. They are under more pressure now than they have ever been. They can't afford a war with Mandalore, because that's exactly what stealing one of our foundlings from us would lead to. So it is safe enough to go there.

"But in this particular place in time, I think it is the right thing for Koska. No child should have to suffer through such nightmares."

Obi-Wan only just caught his outside reaction to that, revealing that those nightmares were all too similar to the ones Jango had been helping him through for years. Moving past it, he asked. "Why do you think the Jetiiese are at the Republic's mercy?"

Jango held his hands out, "They showed their hand, Obi'ika. They are more powerful and better organized right now than the Republic has been in nearly two thousand years, despite the fact that their Order is comparatively minuscule to the Senate. But they remember that it was the Jetiiese who once ruled the Republic, not them."

"I don't understand why that is a problem."

"The problem is the Senate. I will hand it to the Jetiiese that they are trying to hold that body accountable, but half measures won't cut it. They stand between corruption and politicians' personal wealth without taking control. Let's just say there is a good reason, Mandalore isn't a democracy."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Obi-Wan asked, trying hard not to sound defensive.

Jango eyed him, "Do you know why the Jetiiese stepped down from ruling the Republic? Why when they were at the height of their power they let go of the Empire they had taken from a rival group of Dar'Jetiiese?"

Obi-Wan shook his head, he knew the Jedi's history, better than Jango ever would, but something about his phrasing pricked at a question he had always had.

The High Republic was within Yoda's lifespan, a gradual centralization of their people's from hundreds of scattered Temples throughout the galaxy. It was considered the time of the greatest democracy, while the years they lived in now have been, almost unavoidably waning.

The Jedi's numbers had decreased, corruption had a choke hold on the Senate, and unbeknownst to them, the rumours they heard about the Sith weren't only trying but would spark a civil war that would completely turn over the Jedi and all they had built.

Jango continued, "You've heard the Republic referred to as the Old, High, and currently New Republic, yes?"

Most people just called the now, the Republic, but he nodded.

"Jetiiese history doesn't line up with those descriptions. Their height was in the Old Republic. Sure, people will wax poetic the High Republic, and the Jetiiese will brag about the perfection of their peace keeping-"

Obi-Wan just barely managed to keep down a snort, because 'a time of perfecting peace' the High Republic was not.

"-However, what it really was an era of stagnation. They defeated their enemies and became the Republic's dogs. The Jetiiese were both terribly smart and terribly stupid. Have you heard the adage, All Empire's fall?"

Obi-wan nodded.

"The Republic grew too large and they stepped down from power, thus avoiding being the ones to be blamed. But the Republic has no alternative forces. The thing is doomed to fail. The Jetiiese had it together in the Old Republic. Their numbers were larger, the Republic was smaller, and they took orders from no one but themselves. Today, they get caught on their own leash before completing what they set out to do."

"You think the Old Republic was better? Even with the Dar'Jetiiese?"

"Especially with the Dar'Jetiiese, they pushed their counterparts to be better. Now, their only enemy is themselves. Their second Temple has come too little too late to save the Republic. Darkness and war are necessary."

"War is not necessary. Nothing good comes from war," Obi-Wan said too harshly, the bitterness thick on his tongue.

In his last life, he had tried so hard to be the perfect Jedi, for Qui-Gon, for the Council, and to escape the reality of how very good at war he was. Good at killing, good at ending lives… he had learned from Qui-Gon and for his own sanity to be good at negotiations to avoid doing what seemed to be best at.

Jango smiled down at Obi-Wan with such a fondness, as if he were looking at someone wonderful. He placed a gentle hand on Obi-Wan's cheek and said, "That you, of all people, think that, when you are so gifted and yet to believe in the evils of war, is what makes you so incredible, Obi'ika. So strong. You never lose perspective on the people and things that matter. I am so proud of you, ner verd'ika."

"Even if I were a Jetii?"

Jango laughed, "Oh, no, then I would have to disown you."

Obi-Wan felt himself pale as fear engulfed him with a varsity that took his breath away. Flashes of his birth mother drowning him in the Wan river, of Oran telling him he had to keep his powers secret —Oran who had been tortured and killed for saving Obi-Wan, flashed through his mind.

Jango cupped his face, "Obi'ika, Obi'ika, look at me. I was only joking, I will never abandon you, no matter what."

Obi-Wan blinked fast and tried to breathe around the fear, which was infinitely harder than it should have been because he couldn't release it into the Force.

The fear was kept inside him now, just like his secrets. Despite Jango's insistence that he was joking, the fear those words inspired told him something about himself.

He loved Jango. He admired him, he felt safe with him, and Obi-Wan couldn't bring himself to risk the bond they shared, not for anything.

He had survived Qui-Gon's death, the loss of his people, and the loss of Anakin, he just didn't feel like he could survive losing anyone else.

Not even for honesty's sake.

"Obi'ika-" Jango began, but Obi-Wan cut him off.

"Buir, I love you."

Jango smiled and pulled him into a hug, "I love you too, ner ad'ika. I love you too."

If Obi-Wan clung to him a little too tightly, so what? For the moment, he was still a teenager, and even if he wasn't, if he didn't know who he was anymore, didn't everyone need loved ones to help hold them together.


AN: Y'all did ask for me to have Obi-Wan tell Jango, I think it went well, don't you?

Chapter Text

KEYnote: Some time has passed and Obi-Wan, like this chapter, is fourteen now :D

Thank you, Sectumus Prince! I highly recommend their works!

Chapter 14 - Dancing With Disaster

Obi-Wan had his legs swept out beneath him, and he grunted as he hit the ground and quickly rolled away from the next blow. Coming to his feet, Obi-Wan threw a kick, then jerked away from Jango’s returning fist, then hit back.

And on and on they went, until he felt as if he was slipping in his own sweat. 

“Enough, Obi’ika,”  Jango finally called. “You need to work on finding your limits.”

“War doesn’t have limits,” Obi-Wan said, stuffing his anger down deep.

Jango sighed and gave him a look he couldn’t comprehend.

“What?” Obi-Wan asked.

Jango shook his head. “Obi’ika, you don’t always have to give everything. We are a clan, we take care of each other.”

Obi-Wan frowned. “Are you asking me not to try?”

“I’m asking you to not always act like everything is life or death. You push yourself too hard.”

“But we are at war and it is life or death, literally.”

Jango sighed again. “I know, but you don’t have to take on as much responsibility as you do.”

Guilt churned in Obi-Wan’s gut. “You don’t want me to fight?”

“No,” Jango said, gripping his shoulder. “I just don’t want you to feel that if we lose, if something happens… It just feels… I feel at times that if the galaxy were to fall, you would blame yourself. You are one person.”

“One person can do a lot,” Obi-Wan said, stuffing down his bitterness.

Anakin had helped destroy the Jedi.

Jango had created millions of clones to both fight a false war and carry out a genocide.

Chancellor Palpatine had orchestrated a civil war and turned the Republic into an Empire.

And Obi-Wan had failed in stopping any of it.

Hell, he still hadn’t even figured out how to assassinate Palpatine. Naboo and Coruscant were well out of the way, and killing Sith was a tricky business.

Especially as he kept having dreams recently of Darth Maul coming back to life with a spider butt and stabbing Satine while Obi-Wan watched. The next time he killed a Sith, he was burning the body.

His memory was a strange thing. What he knew of his possible future was like a list of facts; there were very few memories he had that he could remember vividly. He couldn’t remember what it felt like to be older, though he felt as if his head had been clearer than now. Anything from before the time travel felt dim, a text he had memorized but not lived. That included his childhood at the Temple. 

In a very real way, Jango was his past, present, and future.

The only exceptions were the nightmares that were either his subconscious putting him through hell or unwanted Force visions, or perhaps a mix of both.

“Obi’ika,” Jango called.

Obi-Wan raised his gaze.

Jango motioned to him. “That’s what I’m talking about. If you put too much pressure on anything, eventually it breaks, including yourself, your body, and your mind. If you’re always pushing yourself past your limits, when you need your reserves most, you’ll have nothing left to draw from.”

Except what his buir didn’t understand was that this was his second chance.

Mandalore wasn’t stable yet. The Jedi Order was doing better culturally and as a people, but the Republic was still doomed and would still take the Order down with it. Darth Sidious and Darth Maul were still kicking. Obi-Wan didn’t even know who Sidious’s Sith Master was or if they were still alive, nor did he know where Anakin was.

Really, the only things he had done were preemptively expose Xanatos, keep Jaster alive, stop the Galidraan tragedy from happening, somehow change the makeup of the Jedi Council, save Feemor, and been a true pain in the sheb to Death Watch.

But that wasn’t enough, not by half.

Jango let out a heavy sigh, placed both hands on Obi-Wan’s shoulders, and brought their foreheads together with a dull thunk, not hard enough to hurt, but enough for him to understand his buir wanted his full attention.

Mando’s actually did quite a bit of training to develop neck muscles to do a kalebe or headbutt in combat, especially females, who typically didn’t bulk up around the neck as easily. This was to prevent injury, mainly whiplash, that could cause concussions. Beskar did a good job of absorbing and reflecting energy, but that didn’t mean punching with your head was the safest idea.

Kind of like punching with an iron fist, yet also with a weak wrist: you were just as likely to hurt yourself as your opponent.

Jango raised his head and bumped Obi-Wan’s forehead a second time.

Obi-Wan gave his buir a chagrined smile.

“Your mind, Obi’ika, is so unfocused. I can see your thoughts racing in your eyes. You are going to burn yourself out, and you’re going to start making mistakes if you can’t focus on the moment in front of you.”

Obi-Wan bit his tongue but couldn’t stop his eye roll.

The universe was indeed a strange place when Jango Fett was giving the same advice as Master Qui-Gon Jinn.

Although, to be fair to both, Qui-Gon was no more your average Jedi than Jango was your average Mando.

Jango pulled back with a laugh, ruffling his hair. “All right, my little foundling, for that you can help your ba’buir with paperwork, after you have showered.”

“Buir—” Obi-Wan protested.

“Nope, I’m not taking your sass. If you were normal, I would make you do an extra hour of practice, but for you, that’s just encouragement.”

Obi-Wan groaned, “Why does he even have paperwork? We’ve never had to do any before.”

“Because now it’s a matter of state. Elections are being held tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Obi-Wan said petulantly, ignoring the logic so he could grouse, “but you said Mandalore wasn’t a democracy.”

“It doesn’t have to be a complete democracy for the people to decide how their system moves forward. The clan leaders are gathering to choose between two forms of government: a Royal line checked by a parliament represented by an elected Prime Minister, or a three-branch system of a Council of Elders, a Prime Minister, and the Mand’alor.”

The Council Elders would actually function much as the Royal family would, as it would be made out of respected saviors from capital cities and the larger clans. 

So few Mandalorians made it to their sunset years that Agni, who was only in his late fifties, was considered an elder. To even have a council of elders was actually counter-cultural. Yes, elders were respected and revered for their knowledge and possible wisdom, but there was also a stereotype of elders being cowardly or weak to not have died in battle. Age-ism was one-hundred percent a thing in the Mandalore System.

However, it also acted as a counterweight to the history of the Mand’alor. While meant to be an earned honour, it was often passed down through killing one’s predecessor.

Having the Mand’alor as a political position was like begging for assassination attempts or lethal challenges.

The reason that there was a three-branch government structure at all in that scenario was so the Prime Minister wasn’t left as king on the mountain during any possible ‘transitions’ of power.

“Come, Obi’ika, go take a shower,” Jango said.

Obi-Wan nodded, acknowledging, at least to himself, that his thoughts were disruptive and unclear.

Giving up daily meditations, something he had prioritized over sleep in his old life, was having an impact. Compounded with his shielding that only ever slipped in his sleep, he knew he was dancing with disaster.

But Mandalore was almost stable, and he was building enough dirt on Palpatine to damn him before the entirety of the galaxy.

He just needed a bit more time and whatever personal damage he had come to would have been worth it. 


Jaster watched his bu’ad with a conflicted heart.

“Where did you learn how to do paper work?” Jaster asked, resigned to whatever lie his bu’ad might give.

He loved his grandchild, truly and wholeheartedly, but unlike Jango, he knew with certainty that Obi’ika was holding out on them.

What bothered Jaster more than the verbal lies, however, were the ones in the practice rink. He had yet to figure out how his bu’ad managed to hold back yet push himself beyond his natural limits—literally, until his feet were blistered and his knuckles bleeding.

Yet Jaster could sense , for lack of a better word, Obi’ika holding out on them.

Obi’ika hummed. “Ner vod, Cody. He was military and had very specific standards. Tedious, but the format made review simpler.”

“They trusted you at ten years old to do this?”

Obi’ika shrugged. “I’ve always been good at my studies. Besides, Cody checked everything over.”

Jaster had initially done that too, but now whenever Obi’ika helped him, he had the ad’ika check his work.

“What was Cody like?” Jaster asked.

Obi’ika’s gaze went distant. “He was the best. At everything, really. He was the definition of steadfast.”

“Jan’ika says that your remembrances at night are very long,” Jaster said. He hated to push, remembrances were private affairs, but Jaster was growing tired of his bu’ad’s lies and evasions.

He could have kept his secrets if he wasn’t so clearly fraying at the edges; getting him to finish meals and sleep past four hours was becoming increasingly difficult. Sure, legally Obi’ika was an adult, but Jaster wasn’t afraid of taking Jan’ika by the ear if he had to. His bu’ad wasn’t getting away with this behavior indefinitely.

Obi’ika stilled and didn’t look up immediately.

“Obi’ika,” Jaster sighed. “We are worried about you, whatever burdens you are carrying… you don’t need to bear it alone.”

Obi-Wan remained quiet for a long moment, before looking up, his eyes the shade of darkest storm clouds before the rain released. “I’m losing my memories.”

That was not what Jaster anticipated him to say, and although it might be another evasion of sorts, he could see the real fear in his eyes. “You are young, bu’ad. No matter how dear or traumatic your past was, it is natural for things to fade.”

Obi’ika’s lips thinned before he blurted, “But I remember in my dreams, and it’s like it hits me all over again. Like each loss is fresh and new even if I couldn’t remember the sound of their voices or even their names before falling asleep.”

Which at least explained the nightmares. 

“That is trauma, Obi’ika,” Jaster said gently. He reached out slowly, touching two fingers to his bu’ad’s temple. “Your mind is ready to move on, but your heart—” Jaster tapped over his breastplate. “Your heart will never forget those it once loved.”

“So what do I do?” Obi-Wan asked, his frustration and desperation clear.

“You let go of the notion that you are fine. It is okay to remember, it is okay to forget. Those who loved you then and who love you now don’t want to see you suffer, but it is okay to mourn them. Whether you remember their names or their faces, they are always going to be a part of who you are today.”

“And you think that will just magically make the nightmares go away?” 

Jaster frowned at him, chucking him under the chin for the tone. “No, not magic. Night terrors are not uncommon, and they are not your fault, but the more you fight them, the more you try to shove aside the pain and the fear, the longer they will continue. You may not realize it, but in shoving down your emotions, you are holding on tighter to them. Let go, Obi’ika.”

“You sound like a Jetii,” Obi’ika said bitterly.

Jaster caught Obi-Wan’s chin in his hand, holding him still as he searched his face, looking for the source of that bitterness. Obi’ika was kind, hard-working, tea-drinking, and a mastermind tactician, but as the years passed the boy had grown angrier, a shadow casting over his bright mind. 

On one hand, it could be puberty. On the other hand, Jaster was betting it had to do with his secrets. So much didn’t add up about his past.

His past military experience on Mandalore that was, by Jaster’s estimation, too formal to Death Watch.

His friendship with Kiffar.

His Basic accent being central Core…

“Why do you dislike the Jetii so, Obi’ika?” Jaster asked as he watched the boy’s expression smooth over into an unreadable mask.

“Why do you?” Obi’ika shot back.

“Why do you think I hate them?” Jaster returned question for question. Not that Obi-Wan wasn’t wrong, but he didn’t dislike the Jetiiese beyond reason. He couldn’t deny the help they had given to Koska, nor the generosity they had shown in taking Chakraborty and Koska’s sisters.

“You didn’t want Koska going to them for aid,” Obi’ika said.

“No, but dislike is not the same as hate. Hate is foolish, intolerance is foolishness, it dissuades one from reason.”

“We hate the Watch.”

Jaster raised a brow, letting go of his chin. “Yes, but they are terrorists, Obi’ika. I will never tolerate violence against innocents.”

Obi-Wan nodded, looking away. “I don’t hate them—the Jetiiese, I mean.”

“But you are angry with them,” Jaster pushed.

Obi-Wan let out a harsh breath through his teeth. “Not them.”

“Then who?” Jaster asked.

Obi’ika’s fists tightened so much that Jaster plucked the stylus from his hand before he broke it. 

Finally, Obi’ika said, keeping his face turned away, “Myself.”

“Why?” Jaster asked.

“Because it’s my fault my people died, my ori’vod, my Cody, my—” He broke off, clenching his jaw. “What happened to them was my fault. If I had the Force, if I was better , they would still be all right.”

Jaster softened. “Obi’ika, there is no magic in this galaxy that can prevent death, it is a part of life.” He wanted to tell him he was too young for these burdens, but telling Obi’ika he was too young for anything was never an argument that ever held water with him. So instead he said, “All we can ever do is the best we can with as much information as we have.”

“Good intentions do not make correct actions,” Obi-Wan said, looking up at Jaster with eyes that were too world-wary. 

“Now who sounds like the Jetii?” Jaster said, pulling his bu’ad into a hug. “Give yourself time to grow, to heal, ner bu’ad. You are not the only one in this clan with night terrors, nor are you alone.”

Obi’ika hugged him back and asked in a quiet tone, “Do you have them?”

Jaster nodded. “Yes, I did. I was a foundling, too, you know. My aliit were also killed in old clan wars.”

“How’d you get rid of them?”

Jaster sighed, resting his cheek on Obi’ika’s soft hair. “I traded them in for new ones. About the time I adopted Jan’ika, the future what-ifs mattered more to me than my past.”

“How do you not have night terrors about that?”

Jaster chuckled, pulling back to look into his bu’ad’s face. “We are warriors, Obi’ika, if you have no faith in the future, what is there to fight for? Bad things will happen, but so do good things.” He mussed the boy’s hair. “Like becoming your ba’buir.”

That earned him a smile.

Jaster grinned back. “Come, let’s go get supper, lest I be described as the most boring ba’buir in history and you convince my own clan to vote against me.”

“It’s all right,” Obi’ika said. “It was Jango’s punishment. Besides, you would be lost without me—your division skills are terrible, and you leave off a lot of unit descriptions. Whoever reads it is going to order you five hundred bombs and ten recharges.”

“Cheeky adi’ka,” Jaster muttered before saying, “One can never have enough bombs.”

“Recharges are more important, aside from naval battles,” Obi’ika sassed back.

“Well, I’m glad you enjoy being correct all the time, ner bu’ad, because I’m going to assign you as my secretary if I win tomorrow.”

“I hope you lose,” Obi’ika deadpanned.

Jaster nodded sagely. “Of course, in that case, I could always hire you out to Adonai. I’m sure he would love some additional support.”

Ba’bier, ” Obi’ika groaned.

Jaster threw his back and laughed.


The Kryze girls couldn’t be more opposite, even at this age. Satine wore a turquoise gown with white and gold embroidery, her family crest on a necklace. 

While Bo-Katan had a full set of Beskar armour.

So young, and yet their philosophies were so clear.

Funnily enough, Satine Kryze was not at all impressed with Obi-Wan for this ‘first’ meeting. But, of course, Satine knew lots of Mandalorians, while last time he had been the first Jetii Padawan she had ever met.

Bo-Katan Kryze was the complete opposite. She questioned Obi-Wan about being the Mand’alor’s bu’ad.

“You are so lucky to live with the most epic person ever!”

“Bo!” Satine finally cut in.

Micah was cough-laughing at what Bo had said incorrectly. Bo had been trying to sign as she spoke, but what she ended up with was: ‘ You are the luckiest living person to get bombed!’

Satine was better at signing, though she had to slow her speech and used a simpler vocabulary, and clearly couldn’t read sign because she missed her sister’s gaf.

Satine continued, “Jaster Mereel is running against our father.”

Bo shrugged. “If you want to be a politician, run for Prime Minister. I hope Jaster wins, because I am going to be the next Mand’alor when I grow up.”

Obi-Wan punched Micah’s shoulder before the older boy could laugh again.

Bo was trying to make the sign for an exclamation, but she kept throwing out her thumb. She also reversed the sign for adult and child. So this time she had said, ‘I’m going to blow up the Mand’alor when I’m a child.’

‘Don’t be mean,’ Obi-Wan signed to Micah.

Micah signed back with a single hand, and quicker, so the girls were less likely to understand. ‘Come on, this is comedy gold.’

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. ‘You live with Maas now, you have enough comedy.’

Micah grinned, pushing back his ebony hair from his face, signing covertly, ‘Truth.’

Satine was glaring at both of them, and signed angrily, ‘What are you saying?’

Obi-Wan held finger over his lips to silence them, then signed. ‘The vote is about to be announced.’

Satine huffed, sitting in her chair and crossed her arms.

Obi-Wan was pretty sure he had fallen in love with this girl because she was near fearless, and honourable to her code. But that was at nineteen, not fourteen, when she was arguably more beautiful and less… churlish. 

Though the latter was not something wished away for her, because that had been after a near decade of clan warfare.

As things stood now, as the room fell quiet to listen to the announcement on the future Mandalore would take.

Elections being held at a peaceful gathering of the clans on Mandalore proper. Mandalore that today still had clean ground, unpoisoned waters, and even forests that remained in certain sectors. It was a change so stark from the alternate reality Obi-Wan dimly remembered that it was humbling. 

The years of warfare, turning away from the Jedi Order, and becoming family with Jango Fett had changed the fate of the entire system, and possibly the galaxy at large. 

Obi-Wan took a moment to be proud, to even be thankful for the opportunity to enter this fight again, to fight for the things and the people he believed in and righting the wrongs of his own people, the Jedi.

The thing about irony, about the what-ifs and could have beens, is that there comes a moment of lightning clarity. A flash in the dark where the phrase ‘I told you so’ becomes tangible.

If Obi-Wan had been using the first, he would have sensed his danger.

Had Micah not trusted Obi-Wan, he would have kept his helmet on that had extra scanner sensors to compensate for his hearing disability.

If Andonai had trained his daughters better.

Ultimately, if Obi-Wan hadn’t been fighting against his metaphysical senses, he would have been more alert.

But as it was, by the time he could have reacted, the needle was already in his neck, a cloth over his mouth.

He tried to kick his chair, to make as much noise as possible, but a Mandalorian caught the chair. Obi-Wan saw the same fate befall Micah, Satine, and Bo-Katan.

Obi-Wan’s last thought was that Jango was going to attempt to burn down the galaxy again, and this time it would be his fault.


“By the United Clans of the Mandalore System, Andonai Kryze and his bid for Duke and Parliament Government loses the vote.” 

A chaos of groans went up, and Jango grinned behind his helmet as Adonai’s shoulders sagged. 

“Therefore, it is my great honour to announce that the Mandalore System will continue as a Constitutional Timocracy. By honour and merit, the first branch will be represented by the earned warrior title Mand’alor, currently held by Jaster Mereel; the second branch will be checked by the elders, who will be appointed by the major clans; and the third branch, represented by a Prime Minister, who will be the voice of a parliamentary voted in by the populace of those on the Mandalore System.”

Jango roared his own approval along with the crowd that rose to ruckus applause. 

Jaster took a bow, then shook hands with Adonai, who rose so they could clasp each other’s forearms.

“Would you look at that?” Agni said with a smile in voice. “A peaceful transfer of power on Mandalore.”

Jango’s reply was lost when he looked up to the balcony where the foundlings were. He couldn’t see Obi-Wan, or Micah, or the Kryze girls.

Nor did he see Myles and Sinna, who were meant to be guarding them.

Jango didn’t stop to think as he activated his jetpack.

The cheering died down as the clans watched him. He was at the balcony in seconds where there were obvious signs of struggle.

“Myles! Sinna!” Jango called. Jaster was at his side in moments, giving orders into the comms.

“Their trackers have been disconnected,” Agni said.

Myles!” Jaster exclaimed as they came into the hall connecting to the balcony. 

Myles lay collapsed on the floor, his helmet discarded as he bled from a neck wound. Sinna had a hand to the wound, and when she looked up at them, her eyes were completely blown, indicating she had been drugged, along with the dash of blood on her forehead. Her helmet looked as if it had been torn off and stolen.

Which meant whoever had taken his son had access to their comms.

Jango cursed and signed over the codes necessary to disable Sinna’s comms. 

“Go! I have them,” Agni said as he pulled the medkit he had brought with him in anticipation of today’s vote.

A vote that had gone without a hitch.

That was, until the terrorist organization they had chased out of the Mandalore system decided to steal the ade from the two clans who were about to step into government.

Death Watch just couldn’t take a loss with grace. Jango was going to eradicate every last member, sans their ade, from the galaxy. There was no corner dark enough, no place far enough, to save them from the wrath that was about to befall them.


AN: Thoughts, phonetic foxes, or feedback pretty please?

Chapter Text

WARNING: Alright, buckle up everyone because this shit about to get crazy, and canon levels of violence.

P.s. People die in this chapter ;)

Chapter 15 - Death Trap

When Obi-Wan woke up, he felt sick, he felt weak, and starved.

He pushed himself to his feet, had a moment to be amazed he was still wearing his armour, before falling back down with a metallic clank.

For a moment, vertigo overtook him, when he managed to focus his gaze the world still felt unsteady.

"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised you would be the first to wake," Tor Vizsla said.

All Obi-Wan could do was glare up at the man.

Then Obi-Wan found himself gaping at the man. He had known his son in the future, had seen plenty of pictures, but this close to him…

Tor Vizsla smirked, "The resemblance is quite striking, don't you think?"

The resemblance between Tor and Micah was undeniable. The same hazel eyes, ebony hair, and pale skin. The main differences between them were age and perhaps Micah's more delicate and less aggressively male features. Micah was slim, lean muscle while Tor bulked as if he were a bodybuilder.

Obi-Wan was betting he took steroids.

Tor continued when Obi-Wan couldn't find the energy or the wit to voice a remark. "Micah Vizsla, I should have named him Obi-Wan Kenobi. A deaf Mandalorian? I should put him out of his misery after his mother died fighting against Chakraborty."

Obi-Wan couldn't keep his eyes from widening.

Tor smiled, "Yes, quite the tale, isn't. You True Mandalorians, so high and mighty, yet you stole my ad by killing my riduur. But then, we were already at war with each other and Mi'ika isn't worth much-"

"He's worth more than you'll ever be!" Obi-Wan broke, his throat raw and he immediately began to cough.

"I certainly hope so, because where we are going his worth will be weighed in credits. If it's any constellation, I suspect you two will be sold together, you as his translator."

Obi-Wan frowned then when he understood the implication, "You would sell your own ad'ika into slavery?"

Force, his throat hurt.

"Pre Vizsla is my son, this welp was a genetic accident. I'm surprised he's survived this long. He's as pretty as his mother though, I suspect I'll get a fair price for him."

Obi-Wan tried to lash out, but his arms were lead weights.

So he tried doing something he hadn't allowed himself the luxury of doing, he opened his shields and reached for the Force.

He gasped, just barely catching his scream as the Force flooded his senses, mixed with the exhaustion and whatever drug they had given him, it felt as if he were being torn apart.

He slammed his shields back down and fought not to be sick, he wouldn't have the energy to roll out of it if he did.

"Feeling alright there, Kenobi?" Tor taunted.

Obi-Wan ignored him in favour of remembering how to breathe.

"The thing about selling Mandalorians, is no one ever believes they are Mandos unless they come with their shells. I will be making a fortune off the Beskar alone. Luckily the little Lady is pretty enough to be highly valued regardless."

"Hut'uun," Obi-Wan snarled.

Tor smiled, "No, just good business."

Obi-Wan sincerely doubted that. He might no longer know how to quantify the years, but he knew that he had been killing, waging war, and being trained by Jango Fett for three consecutive years. Once the drugs wore off, Tor was a dead man.

Tor disregarded his danger, "Feeling a bit tired?"

Obi-Wan didn't break eye contact.

Tor's smirk broadened, "You should, you've been sedated for nearly two months. I fear you may have to relearn how to walk. I must hand it to your clan, it hasn't been easy out running them, but one of you will sell enough to triple the cost of fuel. Besides, this is insurance the four of you will be docile at market. I don't really care what happens to you after I get my credits. Considering the clientele, I suspect the moment you act up, you'll be eaten by something for sport."

"Hut'uun," Obi-Wan repeated, it was the worst insult, something not shared by friends in jest.

Tor stood from where he had been kneeling, "Enjoy breathing, Kenobi, while you still can." He laughed like a manic moron as he left.

Regrettably, breathing was all Obi-Wan could do.

Micah woke an hour later, and he looked to be having the same trouble moving that Obi-Wan did.

If they really expected to sell them on the slave market, they were going to need to soak in bacta for a day. Bacta could exactly fix everything, but they would be able to stand on their own two feet, beyond that… they would see.

Obi-Wan dragged himself along the floor, careful not to make too much noise or bump the girls.

They deserved to remain asleep as long as possible.

When he was in Micah's view, he flopped down, putting all his energy into signing. He only managed half gestures with one hand, 'How are you?'

Micah sighed before signing back, 'Weak.'

'T-O-R said we have been drugged asleep for two months, he took our weapons, our helmets, but not our armour.'

Micah didn't even sign, just arched a brow, his hazel eyes a bit amused.

They were going to kill Tor, or their aliit would.

Obi-Wan continued, 'They have been running away from our aliit and they intend to sell us and our Baskar to slavers. Our armour is proof that we are Mandalorians.'

'Fools,' Micah signed.

'Maybe, but he thinks he can get away with the credits before we kill the slavers.'

'Smarter, but he is still a dead man walking.'

Obi-Wan nodded, kriff he was tired, his sign was bad, he was skipping a lot of smaller words, but Micah and Obi-Wan knew each other well enough to fill in the blanks.

But he made the effort to be clear in his next question, 'Is Tor Vizsla your father?'

Micah hesitated but sighed, closing his eyes before responding, 'Yes.'

Obi-Wan waited for Micah to open his eyes, instead, the other boy signed, 'He didn't want me. After my mother died, he left me for dead. I was four years old. Chakraborty is the only father I've ever known.'

Obi-Wan wondered why he had taken the last name Fett instead of Mereel then but he didn't push. He reached out to gently tap Micah's wrist.

His friend looked up with clear shame in their eyes.

Obi-Wan signed, 'My birth parents would have joined the Watch but they retired to Stewjon instead. My father hated me. My mother should have been to old for ade but she had me and I was born early. I was small. They didn't think I would survive, and they didn't want me to. That's where my name comes from.'

'They didn't sell you into slavery or give you away to your enemies,' Micah defended.

Obi-Wan smiled, 'No, but my mother did try drowning me when I grew stronger. She tortured and killed the boy who rescued me.'

Micah's face showed revulsion, 'I'm sorry.'

'They may be blood, Micah, but you and I are aliit.' Obi-Wan then signed, 'No one cares who your father was-'

Micah completed the proverb, 'Only the father you will become.'

Obi-Wan flopped on his back with another clang, so he could touch his heart then to his forehead before offering his hand toward Micah.

It wasn't a sign that had a good translation in either Mando'a or Basic. It meant many things depending on circumstance or sometimes it was meant to convey many things. It was a blessing and a thank you, but not truly for a deed but more thanking someone for existing and for being able to know them. It also meant go forth with honour, sometimes it was a goodbye on a battlefield, especially if one or both of you didn't suspect would ever return home.

But most commonly, it translated to how Obi-Wan meant it now; My heart rejoices having met you, and I will always know you as you are.

Micah blinked back tears, and though he didn't quite have the energy to repeat the gesture in full, Obi-Wan could read his face well enough to understand that he returned the sentiment as he used the primary sign for thank you.

Obi-Wan stretched out his hand further and Micah caught it. They held onto each other, because it was all they had the strength to do.

Micah closed his eyes first, allowing Obi-Wan to follow.

They were kriffed.

They were completely at the Watch's mercy.

Jango nor Jaster had found them yet and Obi-Wan's very last resort was out of reach.

Whatever they had dulled not just his physical but mentally. It really made Obi-Wan wonder how common he and Koska were? Common enough that the drugs they were using worked as well as a superhuman like Jango and a Force sensitive.

Of course, the Watch believed the symbol of the Mand'alor was a lightsaber.

When it came to the Jetiiese and Mandalorians, it seemed their fates were ever entwined.


The thing about being on the run, you make mistakes.

Tor Vizsla had gravely underestimated them.

True, it was to Vizsla's benefit that Jaster had to surrender the hunt to help take the reins of their fledgeling government, but that didn't slow Jango.

Nor, did it slow Chakraborty.

Chakraborty was a man often underestimated. Out of his armour, he was a memorable figure, Sinna teased him often that he was the pretty one with his dark skin and full lips. But otherwise, he was average height and was quiet by Mandalorian standards.

But when it came to killing, he was little more than a whisper in the dark. As the weeks passed Chakraborty grew even shorter with his speech and even more precise.

What few knew was once not too long ago, Chakraborty was next in line to be the Mand'alor, both in the eyes of the True Mandalorians and with the Vizsla Clan.

Chakraborty Mereel was once Chakraborty Wren. He had challenged Tor for his spot, for the DarkSaber, and he would have won if Tor hadn't played the cruellest and most egregious trap.

Tor had left his own son mortally injured where Chakraborty would find him. Chakraborty missed the duel, and thus forfeiting the duel and 'staining' his honour. However, Chakraborty had gotten Micah to care soon enough that no permanent physical damage was done.

Tor deserved death, but the man was a coward and slimier than a crid-eel.

But he wouldn't be getting away this time.

Every stop Tor made, every ally he took refuge with, the Mereel Clan was not far behind. Tor didn't realize the enemies he was making, nor did he realize that he was essentially giving away all his secrets.

Tor knew his only chance of survival was to keep the ade alive. He was already dead, but if any of the ade were seriously hurt or died.

The last of Tor's issues would be the afterlife.

No, Jango would personally ensure hell would be a mercy.

"Jango," Chakraborty snarled.

"What's the reading?" Jango demanded. He saw the destination and cursed a long stream of profanity as he finished entering in the directions.

Chakraborty flipped the switches and Jango pulled them into hyperspace.

"I swore to him, Jango, I swore that I would never let that dar'buir near him again. I failed him."

"Tor is suicidal," Jango answered. "But he isn't a masochist. Mi'ika is going to be okay."

Chakraborty didn't answer.


When next Obi-Wan woke he was being redressed back into his armour by furred eared slavers. He was still drugged, but he reached for the Force anyway.

He saw a flash of Anakin and Ahsoka walking through the slavers' halls.

He saw a population of Togrutas being slaughtered, working in the mines.

He felt the sting of a whip across his chest, but worse was watching Rex being beaten along with him.

Ahsoka, Anakin, Rex, and so many more, hurt because he wasn't good enough, not smart enough…

Obi-Wan pushed past the pain, as he closed his shields.

He was no longer a Master Jedi, no longer a Jetii at all, the Dark called to him, but his control was too ragged even work with that.

But it didn't matter.

He was Jango Fett's son.

For a moment he could feel Cody at his back, a sure presence.

His constant.

Obi-Wan took strength from that. He might have been a sham of a Padawan, a pretender as a Knight, and a Master who had failed his only student, but he was a damn fine General.

If Cody was his strength, then Obi-Wan was his Commander's shield.

Failure didn't matter.

The Clone Wars had never been about victory.

It had been about survival, or at least the right to survive, for their peoples to go on in a galaxy that didn't give a damn about them.

Obi-Wan shook from the electricity that ran through his body as he got in several blind hits. He waited until the prod was pulled away, he couldn't feel his limbs, but he knew where his targets were.

He went for the karkers' eyes.

Manacles were clamped over his beskar, his helmet was rammed on his head, the padding gone along with all the comms and mechanical devices were gone.

In the confines of the helmet, the smell of bacta was strong which explained how he was standing. He had no way of knowing how long he had been out this time, but even if he was weak, his legs could hold him.

Still it took him a few minutes, in which he was prodded to walk along, dragging what felt like a thousand units of durasteel, to be able to see straight.

Micah was beside him while the two girls walked in front.

Ironically, despite Bo-Katan being the one in armour, it was Satine who placed herself slightly ahead of them.

Protecting them all really.

Some people were just born to be leaders.

Tor Vizsla walked beside Obi-Wan in a prowl, likely suspicious of what Obi-Wan might do.

The man wasn't a complete moron. Obi-Wan would cause as damage as he could manage. Tor needed to sell them before then.

Obi-Wan was pretty sure the only reason his Buir had been a slave in any reality was due to the pirates who 'owned' him, isolating them in space.

Some ships were hard to man without a copilot, and in the outer reaches, travel between stops could take months upon months. Pirates were known for keeping fuel tanks unboard for that very reason.

Which was another reason Jango might not have been able to fight his way out; too many blaster shots and then everyone onboard would have been freed from life.

Obi-Wan noted the grandness of the Zygerrian halls, it was gaudy and despite the beauty of the materials, of the stone, the artisan was a mockery of true beauty.

There was no love in these stones, only sorrow.

Obi-Wan watched Tor from the corner of his eye and wondered where Pre Vizsla was, Tor's son.

Other son.

Micah's little brother.

Yeah, that was somehow weirder than Tor being Micah's father.

Tor was clever and vicious.

Pre was a boot licker.

Obi-Wan kept studying Tor, searching for weaknesses he most likely wouldn't be able to take advantage of.

Then Obi-Wan spotted it, the infamous DarkSaber.

A lightsaber that had been used to kill so many Jatiiese over the centuries.

It was to Cody's argument that a lightsaber wielder who also wore lightsaber proof armour could have a slight advantage, especially when the Jetiiese were trained not to kill first.

Obi-Wan took in a deep breath and braced himself against the onslaught of visions that would come from trying to use the Force when he had been fighting against it for so long.

He focused on the sound of the chains against stone as his feet dragged. Held onto that sound even as he watched ships be blown up in his mind's eye, like debris hurtling through an asteroid field.

Exploding stars. Lights so dim in comparison to the lives that slipped back into Force like a stone into a river.

Obi-Wan reached out with the faintest thread of power past the horrors to the equally horrid history of the DarkSaber.

He was glad of his helmet as he let himself smile.

There were some Jetii secrets good to have.

"Oh, what pretty things you bring me, Tor," the feline queen said from atop her throne.

Her voice pulled Obi-Wan out of his minor meditation, his tenacious hold on the Force slipped, the drugs in his system too much to overcome without dedicated focus.

Not that he needed any more help.

The damage was done.

Tor Vizsla had lost. He would get his credits, just as he would get his due.

His buir was probably going to be upset for not getting a piece out of the dar'buir.

But if Jango complained, Obi-Wan fully intended to call him out for being slow.

"You will never keep us," Satine said, chin raised, undaunted.

The Queen laughed, "I will pay your price. These four will be so much fun to break. Especially you, little Duchess."

"I have places to be, your Majesty," Tor said.

The Queen waved her hand, "Pay him-"

Something shook the walls, the very foundation.

Gongs sounded in the distance.

The Queen stood, "What was that?"

Micah and Obi-Wan shared a look.

It seemed their aliit had finally caught up to them.

A guard came into the hall at a sprint, and they all turned to look. Obi-Wan could already see Tor getting ready to run.

Hut'uun.

"It's the Jedi!" the guard yelled, "They came with the Corallian Navy!"

O-kay…

Obi-Wan hadn't seen that coming.

Another tremor shook the palace.

"Are they dropping bombs!?" the fluff eared guard nearest to Micah exclaimed.

"Kriffing Jetiiese," Tor snarled.

"They're Tonic-Megno bombs! The Jedi are grounding our ships! There'll be no way off the planet!" another guard yelled who came in at a run.

The Queen was already being ushered out, her new 'purchases' forgotten.

Bo-Katan, who was a few years younger than her sister, and likely not as heavily drugged, jumped her guard. Micah helped by tripping the male.

Tor took the opportunity to disappear and Obi-Wan was in no position to chase after him.

The guard Bo-Katan and Micah tackled, pushed them off, struck out with a well placed kick to Micah's side. But the guard didn't linger, no one did. Soon Micah, Bo-Katan, Satine, and Obi-Wan left alone in the grand hall with their absurdly heavy chains.

Satine and Bo-Katan helped Miach to his feet, in his hand were the ring of keys.

Obi-Wan signed, I love you.

Micah signed back, Duh.

Satine, who was also less heavily drugged, worked the keys.

"Let's go," Bo said, "Hurry."

Obi-Wan led the way, knowing vaguely where they were going. The streets were in pandemonium.

The sun shone hot and bright on slavers running and dragging others, the slaves were running and fighting.

Corellian ships were indeed descending.

Slavers were shrieking, but even the distant gleam of the lightsabers, perhaps the mere rumour of them, was raising the hope among slaves.

The Zygerrian Empire wasn't going to survive this. Obi-Wan wasn't sure what had happened to get the Republic to be moved by the Order, though he suspected it was a combination of many things, but mainly an opportunity.

They could have done so much more in the Clones Wars if they hadn't been constantly sabotaged and held back.

The drugs, or perhaps the adrenaline, allowed Obi-Wan and Micah to keep up with the girls even if every step was jarring and made his muscles ache.

The streets were in chaos, and if they weren't careful, someone could get trampled.

The good thing about Zygerria was that slave chips weren't used, therefore, whoever made it to freedom stayed free.

Obi-Wan signed as he ran, "Go to the Jettiiese!"

"No!" Bo yelled at him.

"They can get us home!" Obi-Wan yelled, running toward the nearest wind marked transport he could see.

A woman with dark hair fell into Obi-Wan's path. He caught her by the forearm and helped bring her to her feet. In Basic he said, "This way!"

And that's how their dash to freedom went. They were all too weak to fight, but having a clear direction, the fleeing slaves who saw them, joined them. They were a parade of people, unfortunately, slavers were the scum of the dirt and tried picking some of them off.

They were met with violence.

Satine tripped over her skirts, and Obi-Wan shoved Micah as several screams ran through the crowd as an armed group of Zygerrians grew vindictive.

If they couldn't have them, then no one could have them.

Death before freedom.

'G-O-!' Obi-Wan signed to Micah, they could reconnect later.

"Satine!" Bo yelled as Micah pulled her away.

"I'll bring her back to you!" Obi-Wan shouted to the girl as she and Micah disappeared behind a press of bodies.

Obi-Wan made himself the stone in the stream as he helped Satine to her feet. She had twisted, or perhaps even broken, her ankle.

He cursed under his breath as he supported her with an arm around her shoulder.

Their pace was slow. Still tired, Obi-Wan couldn't simply throw her over his shoulder and book it. Bodies battered around them and keeping their feet grew ever more difficult as they were pulled to the back of the herd where the people escaping were more panicked.

There was so much sound, so much he couldn't see that all he could focus on was moving forward.

But they weren't fast enough.

Someone caught the back of Satine's dress and tugged. Satine clung to Obi-Wan and he spun to see who had grabbed her.

Obi-Wan didn't even know what species it was, all he knew was the person was huge, a slaver, and not letting go.

"Obi-Wan!" Satine cried, throwing herself forward as he reached for her in turn.

The slaver changed his grip to Satine's white blonde hair and jerked.

Her neck snapped.

The sound…

The sound.

Obi-Wan watched the light fade from her eyes as she fell limp in her murderer's hands.

Shock filled, the world falling away around him as he stared at her.

At her body lifeless beneath rumpled turquoise cloth, her hair haloed around her.

She was dead.

He fell to his knees, reaching for her as he struggled to comprehend.

She was too young.

"No," he whispered, she had been in his arms.

She was safe with him, this couldn't have happened.

Not again.

A big hand landed on his shoulder, "Esclave."

For some reason, he didn't worry about himself, he worried he was going to be taken away from Satine.

He had told Bo-Katan he would bring her sister back.

He twisted away from the touch, but the slaver pulled his arm up behind him sharply.

"No!" Obi-Wan yelled, reaching for Satine.

The slaver put a needle to his neck and all he could reach was Satine's medallion. Her vacant face was the last thing he saw before the world went black..


Jango was on one hand pleased to see the Jetiiese and the Republic doing something useful like striking down a slave empire.

On the other; he was absolutely pissed at their karking timing.

Knowing how much a Mandalorian slave would sell for, and Tor Vizsla's pride, Jango and Chraborty went to the palace first.

"Mandos! Are you here to help?" a Nautolan with a green saber that matched his skin called to them.

Jango shot a Zygerrian through the head which seemed to be answer enough for the Jetii.

The Nautolan nodded and leaped over the gate archway as if he had wings taking out the top guard. A purple saber wielder ran in ahead of them.

Was that the Senator of Coruscant? Jango wondered idly as he continued firing, inadvertently acting as the Jetii's back-up.

Ugh.

At least it was for a respectable cause.

They found Tor Vizsla on his way out. Tor stuttered to halt, and though Jango couldn't see his face, he knew Tor was surprised.

Surprised and frozen as he faced his death.

The two Jetiiese ignored Vizsla, knowing Mandalorian business when they saw it. A line of Zygerrian guards planted their feet and prepared to fight the Jetiiese.

"They are gone, Fett," Tor said, unclipping the DarkSaber from his belt. "Dead and gone."

Jango's heart felt as if it had been torn out, but he knew better than to believe Tor at his word.

Chakraborty didn't wait, he just pointed and fired his rifle.

Tor turned his wrist with the hilt, activating the lightsaber.

Jango threw an arm in front of his face as an explosion engulfed Tor Vizsla. The heart of the flame blazed white hot and even with his helmet on, the sound was deafening.

Jango lowered his arm a minute later and blinked at the charred remains of Tor's beskar. The explosion hadn't been expansive, but it had burned hot enough, intensely enough, that no organic tissue seemed to have survived and the beskar was warped.

Jango couldn't comprehend what had just happened.

"Why?" he asked aloud and in Basic, annoyed that Tor had killed himself and robbed Jango of delivering a slow death as well as the opportunity to learn what had happened to their ade.

The purple saber Jetii, who yes, was the Senator of Coruscant, Mace Windu, merely shrugged before he performed a flip and beheaded two Zygerrians. He spoke easily as he casually cut through the remaining guards. "He wasn't a Jedi. He must have tried tinkering with his saber himself, an unbalanced Kyber crystal can cause… imbalance."

Kriffing Jetii couldn't simply say bomb, could he?

Jango growled and pushed himself onward, not bothering to collect the soiled Beskar. Tor hadn't been on the planet long, Jango knew they couldn't be too far behind their ade. There remained hope that the slavers had kept them alive.

Dead bodies didn't sell for much.


AN: Thoughts, sea-cows, or feedback, pretty please

Chapter Text

Thank you to everyone reviewing! And sorry to the AO3 peeps, I will respond to everyone's reviews, I'm just limited by an old computer and writing on my phone which has slowed me down some. My expensive laptop is still being shipped back to me because quality control is lazy :D

Chapter 16 - Everything You Thought You Knew

They had more prisoners than Mace could count but the death count among both slaves and slavers was much less than they had feared.

Things had settled enough that they had to discuss moving forward as Knights and Padawans began counting and figuring out where in the galaxy they needed to take people while the MediCorps worked overtime to get everyone in critical condition stabilized.

Mace was standing with his fellow Council members Depa, Qui-Gon, Kit, Plo, and Shaak Ti under the oppressive sun of this planet whose very sand and dirt hummed in the Force from all the blood and pain it had absorbed. Mace was only half listening to Shaak Ti's account as he kept an eye on the group of Mandalorians not far off from them.

Jaster Mereel, the Mand'alor of Mandalore, had come through with a significant fleet to add to the Corillian and Jedi Navy.

Apparently, however, Jaster had not been aware that his son, Jango Fett, was planet side. The reason for which became clear when they were reunited with a young man and a much younger girl.

Mace, who did not speak Mando'a nor their sign language, wasn't having an easy time eavesdropping, but even on a planet like this their pain and fury radiated in the Force.

Depa brushed against his mental shields.

He let her in but didn't take his focus off the Mandalorians whose discussion was growing progressively louder.

Are they a danger? Depa asked gently.

Mace gave up any pretence of not eavesdropping and looked toward Jango Fett who glimmered in the Force, and let Depa see what he saw.

Jaster Mereel had major Shatter Points, like most planetary leaders whose actions or life directly affected their people.

But Jango Fett…

The fate of the very galaxy hung in the balance of his Shatter Points.

Empires would rise and fall in accordance to this man's actions and choices. The Republic's tenuous attempts to repair, and the Jedi's attempts to save themselves from a sinking ship, somehow, all rested along those same Shatter Points.

If they were enemies, Mace would have killed him rather than risk the danger he posed. But there were too many other fracture points, Jango wasn't necessarily singular in his importance, the people he was tied to certainly were.

Oh, Depa breathed, understanding his distraction.

"Mace, are you alright?" Plo asked.

Mace was about to answer when Jango exclaimed something, yelling at Jaster in Mando'a but one name seemed to cut the world and Mace watched the fracture points shatter around his own recognition.

"-Bajur Obi-Wan Kenobi!"

The Council members froze, their eyes widening as they all turned to stare at the Mandalorians.

It was of course possible they were speaking of someone else but they were Mandalorians.

And their Obi-Wan had disappeared while in the Mandalore system.

Quisdenses did not reach so far.


Jango was seething as they waited for the rest of the clan to finish their recon. Finding ade in these conditions was near impossible and they couldn't travel offworld until they knew where to go and if he wasn't planetside.

Jango was glad Jaster was here, glad they had proof Obi-Wan had been here, but Obi-Wan had been kidnapped.

Again.

"What?" Jango demanded at the end of his rant as Jaster, Adonai, Chakraborty, Micah, and even Bo-Katan tensed up. But even as he asked it he felt the hair on the back of his neck rise and he turned to look behind him at the half dozen Jedi gawking at them.

In Basic, Jango demanded, "What are you lot staring at, Jetiiese?"

Senator Windu watched him with a strange gaze in his dark eyes, like a hawk deciding if the mouse was worth diving for.

Jango tensed further, itching for a good brawl.

But the Senator's words stalled him, "Obi-Wan Kenobi? You found him on Stewjon four years ago?"

Jango sucked in a breath, and a moment of cluster phobia hit him and he took off his helmet to glare at the Jetii, "Obi-Wan Kenobi is my son."

The Jetii looked as if he had been gutted, and for the first time in remembrance, he saw one of the Great Jedi Knights show tangible emotion. It was startling to see the famed stoicism crack.

A woman with braided hair and a bindi touched his arm, then his hand, and he caught her hand, clutching it as if truly needed the support.

Chakraborty had been living at the Jetii Temple on Kashyyyk for nearly two years now, and had reported that those from the Knight Corps were stoic where their children very much weren't.

But at the mere mention of Obi-Wan's name, this Jetii seemed pushed on the brink.

"He survived the bombing on Stewjon," Windu said half in question and half in answer.

The small voice screaming in the back of Jango's mind finally became intelligible; How do they know my ad'ika?

"Quinlan Vos," Jaster growled.

Jango turned to see the Kiffar who they had met on Melida/Daan, who Obi-Wan had introduced as a friend.

The boy had grown a few inches as well as some bulk, froze. A much larger man stepped up to the Kiffar's side putting a hand on his shoulder, moving his cloak to reveal his lightsaber hilt in threat.

Quinlan's black hair was still in braids, but now that Jango could see his own lightsaber on his belt, he noticed the single braided with corded leather and coloured beads.

A Padawan braid.

Jango shook his head, No.

Obi-Wan had been a Jetii foundling? Was that the root of his secrets?

Not Death Watch.

Jetii.

"Where's Obi-Wan?" Quinlan asked.

Senator Mace Windu spun on the boy, he didn't exactly yell so much as raise and deepen his voice when he demanded, "You knew he was alive?"

"Master," the woman at his side cautioned but Windu ignored her.

To Quinlan's credit, he didn't flinch back, just said like an obnoxious teenager in his own defence, "He was the one who saved Master Tahl on Melida/Daan."

The long brown haired Jetii rubbed his face.

"Why didn't you tell us?" Windu demanded.

"Because he made me promise not to," Quinlan said easily.

Karking ade.

There was a long silence after that.

"Well," Chraborty broke the tension, who had been signing in translation to everything being said. "At least we know where his Coruscanti accent comes from now."

Jango shook his head again and tried to think, but all he could think was of his ad'ika's disappearance on Melida/Daan. He attempted to not be angry, but he was furious.

How could Obi'ika keep this from him?

Then Jango remembered the poor joke he made about disowning him when Obi'ika had floated the idea of being a Jetii.

Kark.

Kark, kark, kark!

Obi'ika was afraid of him, his buir, his ba'beir, and his aliit. Afraid of what they would think of him if they ever learned his background.

Kark.

But Jaster was way ahead of Jango's processing abilities. He walked right up to the Senator and just shy of grabbing him and he asked in a low tone, "What did you do to him?"

"What did do?" Mace asked, incredulous. "You're the ones who kidnapped a Jedi youngling."

Jango snapped, pushing past his buir to shove the takisit backward. "Kark off. Obi'ika was left for dead and he never asked for the Jetiiese. He seemed pretty convinced he had no one."

Windu narrowed his gaze, a few of the other Jetiiese had their hands loose at their sides, ready for anything.

But Jaster spoke before the Senator could reply, "You put him in danger. I thought it was safe to allow the Reeves ade with you, but not if Obi'ika is an example how you dar'buir raise your young-"

The long haired Jetii stepped up to Windu's otherside, "That's rich coming from a Mandalorian. Has Obi-Wan spent the last four years fighting in your ridiculous clan wars?"

Jaster snarled, his voice going deeper than Jango had ever heard, "He was experienced in war, he's a skilled tactician. He had formal military training at eleven years of age. What hell did you put my bu'ad through?"

Windu shook his head, "What are you talking about? His trip to Stewjon was the first time Obi-Wan had left Coruscant since the Seekers had brought him to the Temple at the age of two. Obi-Wan had no military experience. We train Knights, not soldiers, certainly not child soldiers."

Which wasn't possible because Obi-Wan knew Mandalore proper, he said he had fought their before and knew things about the planet that could only be learned from first hand experience.

"Who is Cody?" Jango asked, because that was the name Obi'ika always brought up when they discussed his past.

"Cody?" Windu asked with a frown.

"He was Obi-Wan's friend, Commander Cody. From what he's told me, they fought and bled together. Cody was his closest friends," Jango elaborated.

Windu and the long haired Jetii exchanged a look, then they looked to Quinlan.

The Kiffar shook his head, "I don't know any Cody's and I was Obi-Wan's only real friend. He was kind of a nerd and so good at most Force techniques that his other age-mates were jealous. I'm not surprised he's good at tactics, but there's no Cody."

Jango was annoyed and pissed, "Are you telling me that Obi-Wan lied about him?"

"He lied to you about who he was," the long haired Jetii said, his blue eyes flashing. "Clearly, he didn't feel safe with you."

Jango couldn't stop his flinch or the pain those words inflicted as Jetii cut far too close to home. Obi'ika's fear had been something Jango had been trying to help him through since they met.

Micah slashed his hand through the air in negation, then signed, 'No. Obi-Wan is not afraid of you, Jango. He wants you to be proud of him, he's afraid of disappointing you.'

Jango let out a breath and signed, 'Foolishness. I have always been proud of him.'

Micah shook his head before signing, 'His birth mother tried to drown him when she discovered he was a Force sensitive. She also killed and tortured the boy who contacted the Jetiiese who saved him.'

Jango's heart lurched. Again, he felt remorse at his ill chosen words, whether it was logical for Obi-Wan to fear being truthful with his aliit was meaningless.

Trauma wasn't about logic.

"What did he say?" the woman beside Windu asked.

Jango swallowed hard, but translated for them, because if not for the Jetiiese, the Stewjonians would have killed Obi'ika as a foundling, or at least, not have saved him. "Micah said that Obi-Wan's birth mother attempted to drown him when they discovered his Force sensitivity, and that's why he didn't share that information with us."

Windu nodded, "He was dying when the Seekers found him hidden in a shipping crate."

Jango really wanted to kill things, he directed that anger at the Jetiiese. "You haven't explained how Obi-Wan had so much military experience at age eleven."

"That's because he had none," Windu said. "The real question here is why he stayed with you. If you threatened him, forced him to fight in your wars-"

Jango growled, "We forced him into nothing. He left your Order of his own free will, he chose us. He could have contacted you at any time, we would have brought him anywhere in the galaxy if he asked. He could have left Melida/Daan with Quinlan, but he didn't. By galactic law, he is my son, and the Jedi Order has no claim on him."

Windu's jaw ticked, yet he gave no answer.

"Answer him, Jetii," Jaster demanded. "What did you do to him to make him leave your Order?"

"At a guess," the long haired Jetii said.

"Qui-Gon," Windu warned.

Qui-Gon continued, undeterred, "We allow all our younglings to return to their homeworlds, if they so wish, to learn of their people's culture. Obi-Wan had grown extremely interested in Mandalore, its history, your languages. At the time, the Temple received contact from a Stewjoni family that had discovered their youngling had a connection with the Force. We granted Obi-Wan permission to travel with a Seeker to retrieve the babe. The Seeker just barely made it out of range with the youngling, but after searching, he believed Obi-Wan had perished in the bombing."

The woman sucked in a sharp breath, seeming to catch onto whatever Qui-Gon was leading up to, "No."

"Depa?" Windu asked.

Depa closed her eyes, "Could he have blamed himself, thinking that Master Feemor died?"

Blaming himself for things that were entirely out of his control?

Yeah, that sounded like Obi'ika alright.

"He did believe that," Quinlan said. "But that's not why he became a Mandalorian."

"Then why?" Jango asked, annoyed he hadn't been able to put the pieces together himself years ago.

"To save Mandalore," Quinlan said.

Jaster made a harsh sound, "He was a child."

Quinlan shrugged, "The Force gave him visions of Mandalore's destruction, of the fall of the Jedi Order. Obi-Wan was convinced that if the Jedi interfered with Mandalore in any way that it would lead to the destruction of everything. You see, Jango Fett, no matter what you believe, or what Obi-Wan himself thinks; he has always been a Jedi."

"He is a Mandalorian," Jango growled.

Quinlan smirked, crossing his arms as he said smugly, "Sure, but thanks to him, Mandalore has been stabilized and he put you and your dad in power, didn't he? That's what Jedi do, they create peace from chaos."

For a moment, Jango had no thought, just anger.

Fury, actually.

Jaster's voice was almost quiet, "Are you trying to tell us the reason my bu'ad joined our clan, fought in our wars, is because of some Jetiiese mystical bantha-shit?"

Quinlan's smirk grew, "Pretty much, yeah."

Jango hated everything.

"He was eleven!" Chakraborty exclaimed. "What kind of eleven year old joins a war to help a people who tried to kill him for what he was? He was a stranger to us."

Mace Windu sighed, "Because he is Obi-Wan Kenobi. He was beloved by the Order. He was going to become one of the greatest Jedi Knights this galaxy had ever seen. His connection to the Force… he had a rare gift. Never have I seen a youngling more at peace with the Force and the galaxy around him."

Micah snorted and signed, 'What bantha-shit, Obi-Wan is too angry to be a Jetii.'

"Obi-Wan cut himself off from the Force," Quinlan said, his smug demeanour dropping, an undercurrent of urgency to his tone.

Jango startled as all the adult Jetiiese turned toward the Kiffar with predatory focus.

"He did what?" Qui-Gon asked, tone slow and dangerous.

"He cut himself off from the Force," Quinlan said again.

Windu swore in a language Jango didn't recognize.

"Why is that bad?" Jango asked, "He doesn't need any of your mysticism."

Windu raised a brow, "Doesn't he? Obi-Wan is extremely gifted and he left the Temple before he came of age. How often does he meditate?"

Jango's lip curled, disgusted at the notion, "He doesn't."

Some pain flashed through the Masters' eyes.

It was the Kal Dor who asked, "Does he have moments of darkness? That is to say, moments of extreme agitation, anger, rage, irrational fear? Does he have trouble controlling his emotions, or a troubled mind, night terrors?"

Logically, he knew Koska had been having a much more mild version of those symptoms, but she was young, Obi-Wan was old enough and intelligent enough to know his own mind.

"How could you know that?" Jango asked.

"Because there are reasons the Order accepts almost all younglings who have strong connection to the Force, and why so many parents choose to surrender their own children. Outside of communities who can foster their abilities, teach them how to handle them spiritually, most Force sensitives turn to self destruction," Qui-Gon said.

Jango's heart hurt at that, he'd been watching Obi-Wan burn himself out for years and had been unable to help him.

Unable to find the source of his problems.

If meditation had been the answer, if it would have helped his ad'ika, Jango would have learned to do it himself.

"Adonai!"

They all turned to the voice.

Myles was walking toward them with Satine Kryze in his arms.

For a moment, Jango had hope, three out of four ade accounted for.

But Obi-Wan did not follow behind Myles and Satine…

She was too still in Myles's arms.

As beautiful in death as she had been in life, her body was limp as Myles laid her in her buir's arms, her neck bent at a wrong angle.

Adonai let out a cry that was equal parts rage and sorrow.

Bo-Katan stood still, motionless as she watched her father fall to pieces over the loss of her sister.

"Where's Obi-Wan?" Jango asked.

Myles bowed his head, "No sign of him."

"I can find him," Quinlan said. "He's not on-world if that's why you're still here."

"How?" Jango demanded.

"Obi-Wan and I have a bond," Quinlan said.

"A bond?" Jango asked, already so sick of the mystical kriffery. When they got Obi'ika back they were going to sit down for a long talk.

"They were crechemates," Depa said.

Jango refrained from saying anything.

Maybe, that was true, but Obi-Wan's eyes had only ever turned blue when in the Quinlan's presence.

Perhaps that was him opening up to the "Force" or perhaps the boys were too young to understand their feelings for one another.

Something the Jetii saints wouldn't understand.

"If you can find him, then do it," Jango said.

Quinlan looked up toward his buir, or Master, rather. The man with a hard face and green eyes nodded his assent.

Quinlan folded into a seated position on the ground and closed his eyes to…

Meditate.

Karking Jetiiese.

Jaster growled under his breath in Mando'a, "Obi'ika is going to be doing paperwork for the rest of his life after this."

Jango almost smiled.

Almost.


Obi-Wan found nightmares in the blackness.

Darth Maul setting flame to Mandalore.

Satine dying because of Obi-Wan, her last words, "I love you, always."

It wasn't something he had lived, it was further into the Clone Wars than he had ever gotten.

It was an effort to remember.

Remember that here and now, Obi-Wan had failed her again.

But this time, he hadn't been in love with her. He didn't feel what he should feel for her. It made him feel guilty that her death, after the shock of it, didn't break him.

But it should have, she was fourteen, a child. He should care, he should be broken over the very idea of it.

Yet a rebellious, selfish voice inside him thought that Satine wouldn't be dead in either reality had she been a True Mandalorian.

She wouldn't have worn a dress to trip on, her first instinct of a man grabbing her by the collar wouldn't have been passiveness.

No, if Satine had been more like her sister, Mandalore wouldn't have needed The Jetiiese to help their system.

Then again, Bo-Katan had joined the Watch at some point in the non-existent future.

A part of Obi-Wan hated the Kryze sisters, hated them both for putting their pride before their people.

Bo-Katan had wanted to be the Mand'alor so badly that she had been willing to do anything to get there, be it to turn on her own sister or on her people.

Satine wasn't better, building a utopia on the ashes of war that had never been won. No, those clan wars had no winners, they had simply taken the heart and soul from Mandalore so that there was nothing left to fight for. Satine had done nothing to mend that, instead, she attempted to erase their culture with a fiction of complete Pacifism being sustainable.

They were Adonai's daughters to their cores, not fundamentally bad people, but politicians who believed the ends justified whatever means.

It's why the clan leaders had chosen Jaster over Adonai Kyrze and why Mandalore would have rejected both Satine and Bo-Katan Kyrze.

It's why he wanted to hate them and why he was disgusted with himself that any part of him could be so cruel, so cold, when it had been his duty to keep Satine safe.

Round and round his nightmares went, horror, hate, guilt, and sorrow.

He felt like crying.

Give yourself time to grow, Obi'ika.

Those were Jaster's words, and in a moment of clarity, Obi-Wan remembered he was only fourteen, going on fifteen.

Obi-Wan hung his head, Kark.

All these emotions and impulses, the anger, and the self-loathing, sure, weren't unfounded, nor did rejection of the Force help, but this?

This was puberty, and he felt suddenly that he owed Anakin an apology because even knowing that this craziness was being egged on by hormonal changes, even remembering factually all the embarrassing things he had done in his old life the first time around, didn't help.

Not at all.

In fact, he began a new spiral of an identity crisis where he wondered how much was him and how much was hormonal imbalances, then began berating himself all the same because hormones were not a good enough excuse nor the reason behind all his shortcomings.

Stars, he wondered if this was the Force's way of getting back at him.

"Obi-Wan?"

Obi-Wan spun as Quinlan stepped out of the shadows in his mind. Obi-Wan ran at him without question. Quin caught him in his arms, holding him close and rumbled, "I found you."

Obi-Wan hugged him tighter, "I miss you."

Quin laughed, "You say that every time. You know you can come home now, right?"

Obi-Wan pulled back, "I have responsibilities."

"Like getting kidnapped by slavers?" Quin asked with mirth and a hint of fury.

Obi-Wan frowned at him, "How do you-"

"Just tell me where you are?" Quin interrupted.

"I don't know, other than in a cell on a starship in space, which isn't helpful."

"You have to reach out to me when you know."

"I'm just going to comm my buir, Quin. You don't need to get involved."

Quin frowned at him for a moment before he asked, "Are you alright?"

"Physically?" Obi-Wan asked, "I'm fine."

"How are you?" Quin rephrased.

Obi-Wan bowed his head, "I failed someone I swore to protect."

Quin took his hand, "You can't save everyone."

"I can try, I can do better-"

Quin kissed his cheek and pulled him into another hug. "Hindsight is perfect, but not even the Force is perfect, Obi-Wan. It might not be human or a single being, but it is alive and it is made up of all living things. It is with us through our triumphs, with us through our pain. It remains with us through death and with us at our birth.

"No matter how you fight it, it will always be there, waiting for you."

Obi-Wan blinked back tears, "Quin, I saw the future. I lived it. The Jedi do not survive."

Quin cupped his cheeks, searched his face, "Have you given up hope?"

He shook his head, dislodging Quinn's hold a bit, "I wouldn't still be fighting if I had."

"Do you think the Force gave up on the Jedi?"

"I failed," Obi-Wan said, throat tight. "No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I always fail, it is my destiny. The Force itself proved that to me."

Quin sighed, "Through failure, we understand our weaknesses, and to see our weaknesses is not a fault though it may be a burden. The Force showed you that future for a reason. But the future is always in motion."

"I can't have faith, Quin. I can hold onto hope that things will get better, that the worst will be avoided, but I can't trust the Force again. I won't, -I… I can't hurt like that again."

Quin sighed, "These things you feel, Obi-Wan, you will grow stronger than them in time. Remember that you are not alone, the Force will be waiting; will wait for you."

Obi-Wan searched Quinn's expression, a boy on the cusp of being a man, a being that had always been his friend, who had once fallen to the darkness and brought himself back again.

In another life, the distance between them had not been physical, yet in this life, in which they were light years apart from each other, their fugitive bond in the Force was stronger than it had ever been.

A bond Force sensitives formed with loved ones.

Whatever expression Obi-Wan wore, Quin leaned in and Obi-Wan leaned up to cross that breath between.

In another life, they had been lovers, but those memories were distant, a picture of someone else's life.

This gentle brush of lips, even in dream, was real and innocent. A gesture made up of words too few and too precious to be spoken.

It was enough for Obi-Wan to long for home among his true people, long to put down his arms, to surrender the battlefield, to allow himself to be once more not just who he was but what he was.

He had always dreamed of becoming a Jedi Knight. So despite his choosing to be a Mandalorian, he couldn't shake that old ambition.

Dreams, after all, were harder to kill than men.


Quin came back to himself with a gasp and was immediately glad he had a darker complexion than his Master as heat rose to his cheeks.

Obi-Wan's karking father and grandfather glowered down at him, along with half the Council.

Kark, this was embarrassing, burying his emotions deep, he cleared his throat, "Obi-Wan says he's fine and he'll call Jango when he knows where they are going."

"That's it?" Jango asked.

Quin shrugged, accepting Master Tholme's proffered hand to help him, "He said he was in a cell on a ship in space. But he seemed confident about escaping."

"Great," Jango snapped, then gave several orders in Mando'a to the other Mandos that had gathered around him while Quin was in his meditation with Obi-Wan.

Force, his first kiss with Obi-Wan was essentially in front of his entire family, Quin's Master, and half the Council.

"I'm coming with you," Mace said.

"So am I," Depa chimed in.

Jango turned back to them slowly, before he asked, "Don't you have something better to do, Senator?"

"You confirmed that he has been having trouble with his abilities, we never cleared him to leave the Order, as long as he lives, he is still a Jedi."

"He's my son," Jango practically threatened.

Mace smirked, "But he needs Jedi help, unless you want to bring him to Kashyyyk-"

"No," Jaster bit out. "Bring them, Jango, we'll put them to work."

Quin opened his mouth to pronounce he was coming too, but his Master squeezed his shoulder. He looked up to meet his Master's gaze as Mace and Depa left with the Mandalorians.

Tholme smiled sadly, "We will visit your friend after he is found. You don't want to be in that mix."

"What happens if they kill each other?" Shaak Ti asked.

"Hope the surviving party doesn't say something that would cause a war," Qui-Gon Jinn said as if Master Shaak Ti had asked a legitimate question.

Quin's smile fell when he realized even Kit Fisto and Plo Koon looked worried by the possibility.


Obi-Wan opened his eyes and found both Quin and his dreams were gone.

He slumped in against the wall of his cold cell. His captors had once more left him his armour.

Armour was damn near sacred to a Mandalorian, as much so as a lightsaber was to its Jedi.

Mandalorian.

Jedi.

Obi-Wan missed his buir, missed his grandfather, Micah, his clan, his aliit. If Jango was here, his path would be clear, his duty to his people would be clear.

But the Mandalore system had found peace, the war was over, Tor would be dead the moment he tried turning on the DarkSaber.

In spite of all the chaos, the war was over.

Obi-Wan wasn't sure he remembered a time before war. Would he be content on Mandalore in peace times? Would he be content travelling the galaxy as a bounty hunter? The profession he knew Jango wished to return to.

Was Obi-Wan ready for that? Ready for the war to end?

It disturbed him greatly that his answer was no. Civilian life wasn't what he had ever had envisioned for his future. Nor had he ever wished to be an assassin or bounty hunter. As much as he loved his buir, Jango wasn't a vigilante, outside of extreme cases like Malida/Daan, most Mandalorians were content to follow 'honest work', which meant ultimately, clients that could afford to pay.

That Obi-Wan was conflicted between thinking he would be more content with war than bounty hunting, should have told him that the way of the Jedi was closed to him.

You can come home now.

Obi-Wan missed home. Missed Quin. Missed the peace of the Temple, missed the peace in his own kriffing mind.

Obi-Wan didn't think Jango would believe him if he said life as a Jetii was more exciting than that of a mere bounty hunter. The stakes were higher, the resources lower, and basically, everything was trying to kill you.

People more or less respected Mandalorians, only those who were truly too stupid to live actively targeted a Mando.

Jetiiese on the other hand tended to spook people. Spook them in a way that was like the kill instinct of spotting a spider in your bathtub.

The Jetiiese used that fear to make them hesitate. Outside of that, most could be summed up by their social position; those who considered themselves rich and powerful tried to woo them, those who were just regular folk were awed, dismissive, or avoided them, while anyone from a rougher walk of life seemed to jump to homicide.

Or scamming them.

Or perhaps that was just how he had been treated as Qui-Gon's Padawan and Anakin's Master.

It had made life fun even as the Jedi in question was trying to remain calm at all times.

Chaos, yet peace.

Obi-Wan missed it, missed what he once had, what he once knew. But though he was currently more dangerous an opponent than he had ever been, he lacked all the discipline he had as a Jedi.

He had no more peace, and his inner compass was pointing him toward chaos, toward war.

He craved it, he was barely fifteen years old and he craved war.

If he truly opened himself up to the Force, he wouldn't merely see visions of a bleak future, he would fall into the Darkness.

So he shoved his wants aside, because he knew as he was, the Jedi would never take him back.

Because if it was a choice between his dreams and his aliit, he would choose his family.

His cell wasn't particularly roomy, but he wasn't drugged this time.

A week passed and he was given food and water regularly. He was also able to stretch and do a bit of training. By the time they got to the landing port, Obi-Wan felt almost like himself again.

Without the drugs in his system, it was easy enough for him to reach the Force with his shields up. Unlocking his cell was something a youngling could have done.

As was acquiring a weapon on a slaver's ship.

Except Obi-Wan didn't get to his captor before the pirates did.

Keeping his back along the wall, he turned around the corner, and he dropped two of the pirates, a twi'lek and a Rakata.

He spun, sensing a presence behind too late.

The familiar sound of a lightsaber igniting rang in his ears as red light obscured the hue through his visor.

Gold eyes glinted in that light as the Zabrak bared his teeth at him.

Obi-Wan's heart stuttered as half remembered memories flitted through his mind.

Qui-Gon's face as he was impaled.

Darth Maul sensed his fear, his anger, and purred, "Hello, Mandalorian. Would you like to make a bargain?"

Sometimes, Obi-Wan felt like the galaxy was just trying to kark with him.


AN: Thoughts, tookas, or feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

AN: Well, this chapter ended up being mostly one scene that was longer than I expected, but the action is soon to come in the next chapter.

Please enjoy Jango and Jaster's suffering :D

Chapter 17 - Conversations in the Dark

Obi-Wan waited for Maul to make his demands.

"How would you like a job?"

Obi-Wan blinked fast at Maul, who now that he looked at him…

He was different, Maul was either his age, or younger. His eyes were a gold colour not wholly uncommon from Dathomir, his skin was smoother, and there was fear pinching at the corner of eyes, a posturing in his stance.

Someone who was used to violence, yet not altogether adapted to other people.

Maul growled, "You are a bounty hunter?"

"Yes…" Obi-Wan said, although he wasn't really. But if it was his buir's profession, he supposed it belonged to him as well.

Maul lowered his saber —single bladed saber— "I'm hunting someone, he stole something from my employer."

"Who?" Obi-Wan asked.

Force forsaken stars, was he really going to help Darth Maul help Darth Sidious?

"Cad Bane," Maul answered.

Obi-Wan almost laughed, "Easy pickings then."

Yeah, he was going to help, curse it all.

"I'll give you half the cut."

"Seventy," Obi-Wan said.

Maul's lips curled and he said through his teeth, "Sixty."

"Deal," Obi-Wan said, his heart pounding.

He wasn't ready to face Sidious, but whatever Cad Bane had, Obi-Wan needed. Over the years he had found nothing on Palpatine save the odd disappearance of his entire family and a particularly close connection to the Banking Clans.

But a politician being in bed with the money makers was not the condemnation it should have been.

Maul nodded, then spun, deflecting blaster back at his once crew, inadvertently showing how much his bargains were worth.

However, when Obi-Wan did his part to ransack the ship, and got his hands on a comm messenger as well as his first good look at where they were…

Obi-Wan was somewhat glad to have the Sith apprentice with him, because of the places in the galaxy worse than Zygerria, Nal Hutta, City Planet of the Hutts, was certainly one of them.


Jango was irritated when he hit the accept transmission button that it was neither a voice message nor a live one. Therefore, he had no way of returning communication or ascertaining how his ad'ika was.

The message was rather brief but somewhat dire in its shortness. Accompanying the coordinates of his last connection on Nal Kriffing Hutta.

Being followed by dar'jetiiese, bring  HELP.

Also, I'm hunting Cad Bane on a bounty.

It took Jango a moment to breathe, and when he did, he was almost certain he would breathe fire.

"Jan'ika," Jaster said carefully.

Jango shook his head, "I need you with me on this one, Buir. We also need Agni, Maas, and Hallas."

Chakraborty had already gone with Micah, Bo-Katan and Adonai.

Jaster raised a brow, "What the hell did he do? Get arrested by the Corriellan mafia?"

"Worse actually, he's on Nal Hutta."

Jaster cursed, "Of course he is, this couldn't be simple, could it?"

They were talking in Basic so they wouldn't have to repeat themselves for the Jetiiese.

"It gets better," Jango said with false cheer.

Jaster glared at him.

"Apparently, there are dar'jetiiese stalking him."

"Dar'jetiiese?" Windu asked, expression unreadable.

"Sith," Jango and Jaster said in unison.

"His claim would be the first sighting of Sith in a thousand years," he answered.

"You don't sound surprised," Jango growled.

"The Order has found… indication that there are unseen powers bending the Senate toward their devices. It is no accident that we arrived on Zygerria when we did," Windu explained.

Jango sighed, "There's more."

"More?" Myles exclaimed. "What more could there possibly be?"

"Obi'ika is attempting to fulfil a bounty on Cad Bane," Jango said mildly.

Myles' expression was comical.

But even the two Jetiiese understood who and what Cad Bane was.

"He never starts small, does he?" Jaster grumbled as he looked over the calculations Jango had begun.

"Why would he take a bounty on someone that infamous?" Depa asked.

Jango sighed, "At a guess, he fell in with a group. He probably doesn't mean to complete the bounty, but he's in more danger if stays on his own."

"Even if he is betrayed?" Windu asked.

"Beskar is worth much, he won't manage any sleep on his own. If he is stranded for weeks that either means he will be forced to sleep at some point or he will weaken himself beyond even his limits. Both are likely," Jango explained.

Depa and Windu exchanged looks.

"What?" Jango growled as Jaster sent Salvation I into hyperspace.

Windu shrugged, "It has come to our attention that the True Mandalorian Codex isn't so dissimilar to the ethics of the Jedi."

Jaster turned to glare at the Jetii, "Our cultures are the antithesis of each other's. Whoever told you otherwise is greatly misinformed."

The man didn't smile, but an amused glint shone in his eyes, "On the contrary, I think your grandson is uniquely qualified to make such a comparison."

"When did he talk to you?" Jaster growled before Jango could.

Stars, it was hard not to be angry, not to punch something. Only now was Jango realizing the dance Obi-Wan had to do to hide his past. It was especially irritating because his current anger was in a way proof that his ad had just reasons to have reservations in sharing.

Yeah, that didn't help, not at all.

"When he saved Master Tahl on Melida/Daan. He spoke with her, pleaded on your behalf-"

"He asked you to help us?" Jango asked, outraged and shocked.

Until now, his ad's secrets had been a detriment to Obi-Wan's health but to ask the Jetii Order for help? No, that was a betrayal.

Windu shook his head, "Quite the opposite. He urged us not to help you, in any way. His advice came at the same time Adonai Kyrze and the Senate wished us to step in on the Republic's behalf to stabilize Mandalore."

Jango couldn't keep the disgust off his face, "We didn't need your help, you would have only gotten in the way. If anything, you would have disqualified the legitimacy of whoever you helped."

Depa smiled, "And that is the message Obi-Wan gave to Tahl. The High Council sided with that wisdom, especially in the light of learning that the Senate had misinformed us on who the terrorist group was. The Senate was quite adamant that the True Mandalorians were the issue, not Death Watch."

Jango wasn't even sure what to say to that.

The karking Senate continued to rise in stupidity.

Depa continued, "Tahl is much beloved by the Order, she was mortally wounded and would have either died or been rendered completely blind if not for your representative."

Jango exchanged Jaster as they realized exactly how disastrous that might have been. As much as they disliked the Jetiiese, their interference could have decimated their forces, they had the numbers and skill to do so. Severe chaos could have doomed them, had anyone in their clan been killed.

Yes, they had lost people over the years, of course they had, but leaders in the Mereel Clan had mostly survived. As the Codex had only been introduced less than twenty years ago, those who were subscribing to its philosophies and way of life was, or had been, small.

The Republic and the Jetiiese could have easily ruined everything they fought so hard to build.

"It's possible Obi-Wan had visions of the consequences of our people fighting each other. As Quinlan said, he saw Mandalore's destruction," the Senator said.

"If you think Obi-Wan stayed with us only because of his Jetii principles, you will be sorely mistaken," Jango said.

Nearly four years, living together, fighting together, bleeding together… and they hadn't known.

Windu crossed his arms, "Obi-Wan Kenobi was top of all his classes."

Jango snorted, "That doesn't surprise me."

"No?" Windu asked, again Jango could sense his amusement, "By four years old he could recite the entirety of the Jedi Code in its three major versions."

"Reciting is not the same thing as understanding," Jaster said, turning in his seat, because this was going to be a long discussion.

Myles took the opportunity to excuse himself.

"He understood," Windu said. "He was considered exceptional in his theoretical understanding of the Cosmic Force."

Jango didn't know what that meant, but he would be lying if he said he wasn't curious about how Obi-Wan had grown up.

Though he wasn't surprised by his ad'ika who enjoyed reading, studying, and was quite skilled in filling out reports and forms, had had high grades, Jango was still proud of him.

"What did he enjoy?" Jango asked.

"Lightsaber practice. Our younglings and Initiates don't focus on any one style. However, he showed an interest in Soresu, a style known for its defensive tactics, especially against blaster shots, and endurance."

"Endurance makes sense," Jaster said. "However, he is not a defensive fighter."

Not at all.

"What kind of fighter is he?" Depa asked.

"Deadly," Jaster answered, with palpable pride. "He's a born leader. He has an instinct for war that is rare even among seasoned veterans."

Windu frowned at that but asked, "Did he make friends within your clan?"

"Micah and Obi-Wan are very close," Jango said. "When the Reeves girls are home, he does well with them. Unfortunately, given the war, there hasn't been much time for making friends in his age group, but he isn't unsocial."

"War is not without trauma," Windu said. "How has he reacted to the peacetime?"

He was right to worry, Jango thought. Obi-Wan had undoubtedly been struggling and suppressing much. Jango didn't understand the ramifications of suppressing his supernatural gifts, and he knew that he needed to.

"What peacetime?" Jaster huffed. "He was kidnapped on the day of the elections."

"How do you think he will handle it?" Depa asked.

Jango sighed, "What does it mean that Obi-Wan has been suppressing his gifts? Like Koska Reeves, he has nightmares. But Koska had issues with touch, Obi'ika sometimes acts like he's touch starved."

Often, in fact. He wasn't exactly clingy, but he was tactile.

Windu sighed, "It's complicated and dependent on the individual. Obi-Wan is extremely talented in shielding, and he has always rooted himself in the Cosmic Force."

"What does that mean?" Jango asked. "I thought there was only one Force-thing."

"The Force is in all things, what it is is not wholly quantifiable," Windu explained. "Some say it is sustained by all living things and others say that it is all things. For most Force sensitives, they are affected by the Force present immediately around them, most notably, sientients around them. They pick up the emotions of others, often amplifying whatever emotions those happen to be."

"Touch can make it worse," Depa added. "Often the problem becomes feeling too much from too many or simply not being able to separate yourself from another's emotions. Force sensitives habitually experience their own emotions being amplified or echoed by the Force. We consider that to be a part of the Living Force. We often use plants as focusing objects during meditation to help ground them. Most plants don't emote."

"Most?" Jango asked.

Depa smiled, "All plants have feelings, but less so than other lifeforms."

"But that's not my bu'ad's issue," Jaster said.

"No," Windu agreed. "Like I said, he has good shields. However, if he hasn't been meditating and given he's been fighting in a war, surrounded by people at their most extreme —grief, rage, pain, dying, and killing— that may no longer be true. It may be that he has managed to cut the Force out entirely, in which case his senses will be dulled and his immune system will be weakened. At his age, exposed to such violence over so long during his development years, that may be the best case scenario."

Jango scowled, "That's the best case scenario?"

"You've lived with him, on this ship, have you not?"

Jango honestly didn't want to know how he knew that, still, he asked, "How do you know that and why is it important?"

"How much time does he spend alone?" Windu answered with a question.

Jango's lips thinned, "Not much, we share a room, but he's never expressed any desire to be alone."

"Quite the opposite," Jaster backed him up. "In fact, Melida/Daan is the longest time he's ever willingly been on his own."

Windu nodded, "And in all these years, you've never guessed at what he is or seen him use the Force?"

"No," Jango said. "We're not stupid, we knew he was hiding things about his past. But he isn't like Koska."

"No," Windu agreed. "Obi-Wan is gifted in the Cosmic Force, he is able to see the galaxy as it exists together. It is the difference between micro-studies and macro-studies. We often emphasise the Cosmic Force in our teachings, though that is changing, because in general, it is easier to commune with the Cosmic Force. The Cosmic Force is a more steady current than the Living Force oscillates between light and dark with higher frequency, it is more fluid."

Jango —who had to comfort his son nearly every night— disagreed, "How are visions easier? Obi-Wan's night terrors are vivid and relentless."

Windu sighed, closing his eyes, "Obi-Wan is gifted, powerful. Force visions are common, but for someone like Obi-Wan they become an issue. Had he stayed with us we would have helped him understand the Living Force, find grounding in so he could let the visions pass. Visions can be traumatizing and disorienting. I am not surprised he has been trying to supplement grounding through touch."

"What do you mean grounding?" Jaster asked. "And his visions… we assumed they were terrors from the war or something from his past, but are you saying he's what, prophetic?"

"Prophecy is something specific," Windu said. "But visions can be things from possibilities of the future or impressions from the past. They can be glimpses of true events of the future or they can be manifestations of our dreams and nightmares masquerading as visions. It is why meditation is so important for Force sensitives. Knowing yourself, your limits, your fears… you need objectivity to work with the Force or you become a servant to your emotions. We consider it a gift that we can communicate with the Force, to be able to direct and borrow its strength, but the more powerful you are, the more power the Force has to influence you."

"So," Jango said drily, "he's been having supernatural nightmares?"

Windu raised a brow, "Only his nightmares? He's been able to stop the visions in waking hours?"

Jango let out a harsh breath. He didn't want to admit this, he didn't like airing his ad'ika's weaknesses with others, with karking Jetiiese of all people who should have been their enemies, however…

However, these were people uniquely able to help Obi-Wan in a way Jango might never understand.

What he did understand was that he had failed Obi-Wan in making him feel safe enough to share his past with them. So despite his own pride, Jango admitted, "Obi-Wan's health has been getting progressively worse. He eats less than he used to, sleeps less than he used to, he pushes himself past sense. If we let him, he would work himself to death. His mind is unfocused, he's distracted, quieter, angrier. I would have said that he is doing well enough because he has fought in our wars as an officer, but Death Watch should not have been able to catch him off guard. He is more skilled than most of the adults in our clan, but he loses focus as if pieces of him are being chipped away."

Mace Windu put a hand to his lip in thought, a gesture that hid his expression.

Depa stared down at her hands.

"I take it those are bad signs," Jaster sighed, leaning back in his seat.

Their continued silence was confirmation.

Finally, Depa said with sadness in her voice,"He's in danger of falling."

"Falling to what?" Jango asked, hoping like hell the answer wasn't dying.

"To the Dark Side," Mace said.

Jango threw up his hands, "What? He just doesn't use his powers then he becomes a dar'jetii?"

Mace frowned, "A Darksider, or a fallen Jedi, but not Sith, the Sith are something specific. That would require training under a set of philosophies that are hard to access and even harder to follow. Falling to the Dark Side is easy, being a Sith requires overcoming a threshold of pain and morality that is difficult to maintain."

Jango's near everpresent migraine that appeared since Obi-Wan's disappearance, was expanding throughout his skull as he asked, "Considering what I know of the Sith Empires, I will take that as a positive. But how does the Dark Side fit into the Cosmic and the Living Force?"

"Broadly speaking, negative and positive emotions, actions, and events correlate with the dark and the light. Our own emotions are magnified, the good and the bad. If you hold onto those emotions, if you are unable to let the excess off, it will build until eventually, you lose control. At which point, Obi-Wan is likely to reach for the Force. And if he does so with negative emotions he will have no control over what he does or who hurts."

Jango covered his face with his hands and fought the urge to do something violent.

"In otherwords," Jaster drawled, "he's a ticking time bomb."

"Yes," Mace agreed. "If he does not have control over himself then he will have no control over the Force, or how it acts through him."

"And I'm guessing the Force isn't wholly benevolent," Jango said, dropping his hands in defeat.

"The Force tends to give what it receives. It mostly acts like a living thing, but it doesn't think the way we do. There are many debates between the Jedi and Force sensitives sects, therefore I will say only this; if you are hurting, and you use the Force while you are hurting, you will hurt the Force. The Force will escalate that, as it will escalate your lack of control. Darksiders are at the mercy of the tides of the Force."

"So, he'll become what? A rampaging monster?" Jango asked.

Depa shook her head, "It will be hard for him to identify friend from foe."

"Long term, what are the long term side effects?" Jaster asked.

Mace sighed, "Given what he's been doing for the last four years, he will continue on."

"What the karking hells does that mean?" Jango snapped.

"The Force amplifies. Qui-Gon's old Padawan slipped toward the Dark Side, his ambition, pettiness, and pride were all increased, it is what drove him. His worst instincts were encouraged."

"Obi-Wan is still Obi-Wan, he is a good person," Jango defended. His ad'ika wasn't going to become some mindless beast because of karking metaphysics.

Obi-Wan wasn't so weak as to fall prey to that.

But the Senator's next words chilled Jango to the bone; "If he's been killing, he will kill more, if he has been waging war, then he will continue to do so, even if it means instigating conflict. It won't make him stupid or mad, it will sharpen him, drive him to crave chaos and power, no matter the costs."

"No," Jango stated. "It can't be like a switch, one moment himself and the next-"

Mace was already shaking his head, "No, outside of short bursts, no, it is not instantaneous, but what you just described of Obi-Wan's mental and physical state is extreme. Obi-Wan could meditate a day away, he had a well of inner peace. A deeper peace than most Master Jedi ever achieve. He walked with the Force, and the Force loved him. For him to turn away from the Force, is extreme. For him to hold on to anger, is extreme. He needs help, Jango Fett, beyond what I can explain, he needs help."

Jango shut his eyes, "If he does not wish to leave with you, I will not let you take him."

"I won't force that choice upon him," Mace said.

Jango looked up and narrowed his gaze, "What do you mean by that?"

"I mean that I am approaching re-election, for Obi-Wan Kenobi, I would step down."

"So you can take him to Kashyyyk?" Jango pressed.

"If you allowed it, I would join your cause for the duration of his training."

Jango stared at him, "He's not just a youngling to you, is he?"

"I had intended to take him as my next Padawan when he returned from Stewjon," Mace said.

From what he learned from Chakraborty, Padawans were more than students, they were considered the lineage of their Masters.

It was a different bond than parent and child, a bond that was both more formal and sometimes it seemed more dear. Not all parents and ade relied on each other through the same trade.

It was, as it appeared Obi'ika had noticed, not so dissimilar to how Mandalorians raised their warriors. Although Jango didn't pretend to understand the apprenticeships of Jetii Knights fully, he recognized that this Jetii, Senator Mace Kriffing Windu, was essentially Obi-Wan's aliit.

Which made him Jango's aliit.

Ugh.

"Obi-Wan is my son and will always be my son, but I will not hold him back if he wishes to learn. And if you follow our laws, you will not be unwelcome among us," Jango said with zero enthusiasm.

Mace bowed his head, "Thank you."

There was an awkward pause and Jango sighed. "His military experience is tied to his visions, isn't it?"

"It would be safe to assume so, though I'll be honest, I don't actually know how visions could help one learn tactics. Unless he is seeing what is going to happen hours or days ahead of time in vivid detail, which even considering my own unique gifts, would be extraordinary, and, quite frankly, absurd."

Jaster shook his head, "We would have noticed that. That level of foreknowledge would have screamed spy. No, it isn't foreknowledge to that degree, but he is very good at creating battle plans, adapting, and understanding the enemy as well as the limits of those working around him. He's good at figuring out how to best utilize skills and delegating."

"In the heat of battle?" Mace asked.

"Especially, in the heat of battle," Jango affirmed.

Mace frowned, "I don't know, that sounds like lived experience. If he's cutting himself off from the Force in waking hours, that becomes even more singular. Developing battle meditation is difficult, it can allow a Jedi the wisdom of our ancestors, the wisdom of the Force itself. But cutting himself off from the Force then trying to use it intermittently, would be catastrophic. Someone like Obi-Wan who is prone to visions would likely be inundated with them which would not only break his concentration but it would cause physical stress and injury."

"What the hell happens to people with no training?" Jango asked.

"Insanity," Depa offered.

Jango made a face.

She offered him a small smile, "It truly depends, some are very lucky, some find themselves very unlucky. Thankfully for most who are untrained, either never develop their metaphysical strength, like a healthy muscle that's never been conditioned, or they use the Force almost consistently without ever realizing. A constant burn off."

"But Obi-Wan has been trained."

She shrugged, "Master Sifo-Dyas, who has a greater gift for visions than Obi-Wan ever did, was prone to having seizures in his youth. He too was trained, and as he grew, he learned to manage."

"For humans, the time that Obi-Wan left us was a crucial point of his development," Mace said bluntly. "I cannot say what the extent of the damage he has done to himself until I see him in person. I can tell you that he is not well."

Jango's heart hurt as he said, "Then we need to find."

Mace nodded, "I cannot thank you enough to keep him alive until now."

"I didn't do it for you," Jango spat.

Mace smiled, "I am grateful, all the same."


AN: This is what Obi-Wan gets for keeping so many secrets, Mandalorians and Jetiiese having to talk civilly with each other about their parenting and metaphysics, much to Jango's joy ;)

Thoughts, sea-turtles, or feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

ANNOUNCEMENTS: My friend and sometimes beta, the wonderful Nauze, is doing a series of podcasts interviewing Fanfiction authors (Bruno Campos or Youtube then enter /channel/UCjy_nctirAkv6k3qgfQpO_A). I will be next and I wondered if any of you would be interested in being able to view/contact me on other social networks? Namely Discord and Instagram. You would be seeing my real name as my art is linked to me directly, also images of my cat and puppies.

Thank you, Sectumus!

WARNING: Suicidal thoughts/actions in this. This chapter is also chaotic and trippy, anything you didn't get is going to be explained to a very insensed Jango Fett next chapter :D

Chapter 18 - The Ocean

He knew that together, the three of them could take Palpatine without using the Force. But Obi-Wan had opened the door, and there was no shutting it.

Nal Hutta was like the upside down of Coruscant. Obi-Wan didn't know how else to describe it, because it was so much worse than the underground of Coruscant. It was slums on the skirts of buildings whose wealth was as atrocious as their designs.

Hutts had a love of wealthy and beautiful things, but seemed to take delight in soiling everything they touched.

"There," Maul said, coming to a halt.

Obi-Wan flattened himself to the alley wall, peeking around the corner as Maul stayed still on his otherside, able to use the Force to see without looking.

Cad Bane was indeed leading a group of three humans: a man who flinched anytime Bane shoved him, a woman who looked like she was calculating whether it was worth ripping Cad Bane's arms off, and another man who kept his head down.

Obi-Wan pulled back to look at Maul. "They stole people from your boss?"

"They are scientists," Maul huffed.

"For what?" Obi-Wan pushed.

"Does it matter?" Maul grumped. Force, was he young.

"Yes," Obi-Wan said.

Maul growled, then proved how young he was by answering, "Kyber crystal researchers."

Obi-Wan was glad for his helmet, because he couldn't keep the shock off his face. He wasn't sure how that would tie back to Palpatine in a way he could destroy his reputation with, but it was a good thing to catch nevertheless.

He wasn't even against that type of research, except if the research was being done by private interests or governments, it would inevitably be used for weapons development. Even the Jedi Order limited the research they did in case their secrets were ever breached.

There were stones like Kyber that had been used to defend against lightsabers, and really, there was only one thing that could be used.

There just weren't enough Sith in the galaxy for lightsabers to be anything but a very specific set of circumstances.

"I will take out Bane and you will protect the marks."

Obi-Wan caught Maul's wrist before he moved. "Why trust me?"

Maul stared at him, gold eyes bright with agitation. Then he said something more revealing than the young Zabrak probably realized. "I am not… skilled with people. If you betray me, I will simply kill you."

Obi-Wan wanted to ask if this was the first time Palpatine had let him be around other sentients, or his first solo mission. But he knew better than to mess with a Dark Sider's pride if his intention was not to enrage them.

So he simply nodded. "I understand."

Maul glared at him. "Keep them alive."

Then the Sith Apprentice disappeared.

Obi-Wan took a deep breath and followed after him.


Darth Sidious, otherwise known as Senator Palpatine, had finally been granted permission by his Master, Darth Plagueis who went by Hego Damask, to allow his own apprentice a test drive.

Maul had never been allowed to leave Mustafar since Sidious had brought him there to be raised by a droid. His destiny was not to become a Sith, merely a Sith Assassin, which would be the only type of Apprentice he planned to have. Unlike his naive 'Master', Sidious would never raise his own equal or replacement.

No, as his Master slaved away at unlocking the secrets of immortality, Sidious was able to focus on taking over the galaxy.

Which had become a nightmare when every plan the Sith had ever had crumbled to pieces when the Jedi scattered and began serving both outside the Republic and within the Senate.

If it was just that, if the Jedi had descended into their incompetency as they had been doing for the last thousand years, it would have been fine. If anything, it would have made the Jedi Order more vulnerable, easier to pick off.

But no, the Jedi Order had been making 'positive' change in the galaxy and had begun taking out friends of the Sith with surprising competence. With Mace Karking Windu—who he and Plagueis assumed was a traditionalist—speaking his own mind and controlling the flow of information of the Order's business to the Senate. Not to mention the public school they had created on Coruscant.

Suffice to say that the Legendary Mysterious Magical Jedi were now spoken in the same breath with the humanitarians of Alderaan. Alderaan had, in fact, gained spectacular power. Before, as a pacifist system, there had been a limit to Alderaan's aid. But with the Jedi Knights and the Corps supporting them, the galaxy was undoubtedly changing.

Senator Bail Organa and Senator Mace Windu were the two most popular and well-known Senators in recent history. Organa had even been tapped as Chancellor.

Sidious wanted to kill him, wanted to kill them all. However, that would have made them martyrs.

Not that it was impossible to defeat them, far from it, though unfortunately it meant converting more Force-sensitives on their side.

So wasn't it fortunate that his apprentice had found one of the most powerful Force-sensitives Sidious had ever encountered outside the Jedi Order? In addition to the boy's power, the little Mandalorian radiated anger, fear, and pain.

Truly, the chances of finding a Mandalorian this young was an abnormality. He only knew that the boy was young because he had been following them for three days now and saw him remove his helmet.

He was caught between watching Maul struggle against Cad Bane and following the Mandalorian lead the scientist Galen Erso and two of his team to safety.

Which was fortunate, because moments later, when Cad Bane was frustratingly kicking Maul around, the Mandalorian boy returned. Sidious was so curious that he didn't care what had happened to Erso. There were other scientists in the galaxy.

Powerful apprentices already embedded in the Dark without ties to the Jedi were far rarer. Sidious was growing more frustrated by the moment, as Bane tossed Maul about. He had trained his apprentice, and even at this age Maul could take on most Jedi Knights.

Regrettably, Bane was capable of taking on most Master Jedi. It still wasn't an excuse for Maul's lacklustre performance.

The fight changed, however, when Maul drew his saber and the Mandalorian jumped in to cover Maul's back. Within minutes, Bane was on the run, and Sidious's new apprentice was on the chase.


Master Mace Windu felt his heart rate rise as he began to see shatter points bloom before him like a chained explosion.

And that was through his shielding. He and his old padawan were shielding so hard they couldn't communicate through their bound, so they wouldn't expose themselves to the Sith.

Still, he watched the shatter points form as if he were moving through tunnels in a glacier. Whatever happened here tonight would change the course of history irrevocably.

So imagine his surprise when they finally found Obi-Wan and Jango Fett stopped them from helping.

Mace kept his voice low as he asked, "Is there a reason you are preventing us from helping?"

The Mandalorian's hostility radiated off of him. Jango Fett was possibly the most deadly man in the galaxy, Mace could only be thankful that they weren't enemies.

Even if they might wind up in a custody battle.

"He spotted us," Jango said, signalling a blue light that was so small Mace doubted he would have noticed it from the traffic moving overhead.

"The Sith?" Depa asked.

"No," Jaster said, "Obi-Wan. We need to get the civilians out of there."

Jango nodded. "Mace, Depa, you need to handle that. If the Sith figure out there are Jedi here, they may cut their losses, considering how long they have been hiding from your Order."

"There is just the boy," Depa protested, referring to the young Zabrak.

Jango shook his head. "Obi'ika said he was being followed. We need to find who is shadowing them first. So get the civilians out of the way."

Mace nodded. He and Depa had dressed in darker colours, so with their hoods up, they melted into the crowd even as they skirted rooftops.

Having lost sight of them amongst the ramshackle buildings, he didn't expect to find them as soon as they did.

As they turned the final corner, Mace almost ran into Obi-Wan. He put out a hand to steady the Padawan. His heart broke as he felt how ragged the boy's shields were, his aura radiating pain like a cut artery.

"Mace?" Obi-Wan asked, voice only slightly altered in the helmet. It had deepened from the eleven-year-old he had known.

"Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi," Mace answered, feeling Obi-Wan's shock.

But in the next moment, Obi-Wan tugged on the man behind him and shoved him toward them. "Master Windu, this is Galen Erso and his team, please take them to safety."

Erso was rigid and he sputtered, "Jedi?"

Why the man and his two team members were afraid of Jedi, Mace didn't know, and momentarily, didn't care.

"Go," Obi-Wan urged. "Don't get spotted."

Then he was gone.

Depa huffed a laugh. "I guess he missed us."

Mace rolled his eyes. "Come on, let's hurry so we can get back."

Several shatter points crumbled as he urged these people ahead.

He could only pray the Force was with them.


Obi-Wan tried not to think how funny it was that Mace Windu of all people was helping Jango Fett. Or how funny it was that he, Obi-Wan, was helping Darth Maul of all beings.

That was a relatively easy task, as he was focused on killing Cad Bane and praying his buir wasn't going to kick his sheb for all the secrets he had been keeping.

He didn't have a lot of hope for the latter.

Cad Bane was obnoxious, but with Maul at his side, Obi-Wan wasn't in the least afraid.

He was much more concerned about the cloaked shadow he had glimpsed following them over the last few days. Maul was on his side now, but he wouldn't be when Obi-Wan turned on the Dathomirian's Sith Master.

He was glad when his buir understood his subtle hand gesture to stay back, a message he had confirmed getting with the returned light signal.

Jango and/or Jaster had been wise enough to send Mace and Depa away.

Obi-Wan really didn't care if died today if he could take Palpatine down with him.

"You stupid children," Bane growled as his hat was blown off.

Maul activated his saber and Bane swore as he leaped back.

Obi-Wan fired the blaster he had stolen so that, when Bane dodged, he put himself closer to Maul.

Bane's eyes widened as he finally caught on to how outclassed he was.

Bane, in an amazing show of physicality, grabbed Maul's wrist and raised his foot to kick the blaster out of Obi-Wan's hand.

His mistake was not securing Maul's lightsaber, which Obi-Wan took the opportunity to catch. He rolled forward, his hand closing around the hilt, the red humming blade cut through Bane's side.

Bane exhaled a soundless scream as Obi-Wan brought the blade up through the spine, halving Bane's skull.

Obi-Wan stepped away from Maul as the Zabrak staggered back, panting.

They both came to attention as the shadow dropped down into the alley they had chased Bane into.

Palpatine's laugh raised the hair on the back of his neck.

"Good, good," Palpatine groaned. "You are very gifted, Child of Mandalore."

Obi-Wan didn't lower the red saber. He couldn't see the man's eyes, but he could see the cruel curl of his lips.

How in the hells did they ever trust this man?

Obi-Wan felt the Sith Master rip into his shields. Obi-Wan let him, opening himself to the Force for the first time in years, willingly and fully.

He then shoved the tsunami of visions and all the things he had been suppressing at Palpatine.

Dimly, Obi-Wan felt Qui-Gon down a long-neglected bond. He ignored that as sheer exhilaration ran through him. He had been so long without that he felt as if his very being was singing; a tuning rod for the Force.

It probably should have hurt.

It probably did.

But going without had hurt so much more. Swallowing his anger and every emotion of his own and from others he had collected over the years had been like drinking acid. He had felt like a tiny pound that had long gone stagnant, sickly and poisoned.

Undrinkable.

In a way, Obi-Wan felt as though he might be dying. A slow suffocation, like a fish in water that held no more oxygen. A slow descent into madness, he knew that; knew that he would either explode one day and have to be put down, or simply let himself be killed.

He knew that.

But by the stars, it felt so beautiful to breathe the Force again, to let go of every burden he had carried.

The Force greeted him like he was an old friend…

Or like a jealous lover, as he was slapped back by the Force and his physical body slammed against the ground and he brought him back to himself.

Palpatine was laughing. "Good, good."

Obi-Wan held onto the saber, felt it's pain, it's hurt, it's confusion.

This kyber had not chosen Maul, but it knew him intimately.

It bore not the pain of the Sith he had once known, but the pain of a boy without a friend in the world, and the only person he knew, whom he loved and hated, tortured him.

He knew nothing else, he wanted nothing else, because if he believed there was, his Master would end him.

The Force made life worth living.

It was then Obi-Wan realized that whatever hate Sidious had branded into Maul's psyche, he hadn't taught him to hate the Jedi yet, and if he had, it was too amorphous a concept to hold onto.

This Maul wanted to appease his Master more than he hated the Jedi.

Maul stared at them now, his eyes flicking between Palpatine, his Master and torturer, and Obi-Wan, who was a stranger, but one he had trusted to stand guard while he slept.

They weren't friends. In three nights and three days of tracking through the crime-owned streets of Nal Hutta, there hadn't been time to talk.

But they were allies, and Obi-Wan had not hurt or betrayed him.

He also wasn't seen as a Jedi.

Maul had no desire to kill him, but nevertheless, that's exactly what Palpatine asked of him.

"Kill him," Sidious commanded, tossing a short lightsaber that flashed gold under the traffic lights to Maul.

Maul snatched it from the air and ran at Obi-Wan without hesitation, eager to prove his skills.

Obi-Wan had instincts honed with four years of warfare and being trained by Jango Fett and Jaster Mereel.

But with the Force within him flowing through him?

Obi-Wan had never felt more like he was dancing than now. His limbs were light, his vision clear. He was unused to the weight of the lightsaber, swinging harder than he needed to, but he never was in danger of hurting himself with it, not with the Force singing to him in such sweet melodies.

Maul wasn't doing as well. He was clearly trained, but he wasn't as fast, and with Obi-Wan's shields blown all to hell, he was very loud in the Force.

It was likely distracting, and soon those gold eyes shone with panic and self-doubt.

So young, so misguided.

Maul swung his lightsaber for his head and Obi-Wan slammed his head forward.

Maul's saber skidded harmlessly against Obi-Wan's helmet and their foreheads connected with a harsh thunk. Beskar with Force-assisted strength wasn't an easy blow.

Maul yelped, falling back on his sheb. His lightsaber clattered on the packed ground as he brought his hands up to hold his head.

Obi-Wan had hit just under the front centre horn.

Horns that were adapted to take a great deal of force. But Zabrak faces didn't have similar adaptations, and it appeared that Obi-Wan had hit a pressure or sensitive point of some sort.

That, or Obi-Wan had underestimated his own strength.

"You can come with me, Maul," Obi-Wan offered. "You don't have to be his slave, you are free to be so much more."

Maul stared up at him with disbelieving gold eyes. "You aren't going to kill me?"

"No," Obi-Wan said, using his free hand to take off his helmet and let it drop to the dirt-caked street, so Maul could see his expression, his sincerity. "You are more than what he made you."

Maul just stared up at him, speechless and lost.

"He might not, but I will!"

Darth Sidious came at them with impossible speed. He had another saber in one hand, and summoned the one he'd given to Maul so he came down on his apprentice with two crimson blades.

Or he would have if Obi-Wan didn't Force shove Maul a few meters back and step to meet that strike.

Obi-Wan was no equal to the Sith Lord, but Palpatine wanted to play, and as long as Obi-Wan could wear him out even a little, Jango or Mace should be able to finish the job.

So Obi-Wan moved, and when he tired, he pulled on his anger, made the Force help. The Force snarled at him in distress, but Obi-Wan paid it no heed, not even when the Force rasped against his nerve endings.

It was as if he stood in a sandstorm and the tiny bits of glass and stone were skinning him alive.

He didn't care. If this could lead to Palpatine's demise, then his life would have been worth something.

Because for Obi-Wan, the Clone Wars had never ended.

How many of his brothers and sisters had died on Geonosis trying to save him?

How many clones had been sentenced to their doom by the Order?

How completely and utterly had he failed Anakin and Ahsoka?

No, Obi-Wan would see to Palpatine's demise.

For Qui-Gon and for Maul.

For his troops and for Anakin.

For Cody.

Yes, for Cody, Obi-Wan would end Darth Sidious, no matter the cost.

Palpatine cackled. "Yes! Yes! Give into your hate, your anger. Give into the Darkness and be freed by the Force."

Obi-Wan smiled and accepted that advice, the Force howling in his ears like a wicked wind upon a mountain top. He felt the Darkness rise and he beckoned it to him, despite knowing he was past his limit.

He drank the ocean anyway, until he was no longer flesh and blood, until the world around him began to be nothing more than darkness as he sank further below the waves, further and further from the light above him.

Dimly he heard Palpatine scream as Obi-Wan's final blow took the dar'jetii's arm off below the elbow.

It was enough.

It was enough.

He let go.

He didn't fight it as he drowned.

Because he didn't have to.

He could let go and the people he loved would go on.

It was okay because they would be alright now.

It was enough.

So he let go, of the pain and of the sorrow; of the desire to live.

He had had enough and he could rest now.

It was enough.


Karking hells.

Jango had never seen Obi-Wan—scratch that—anyone move that fast.

Jango could only stop and watch.

The strength of which he used to knock the Zabrak down with power that it should have been enough to crack his skull like an egg. Perhaps it might have if he had been human. Regardless, Jango knew he was hurt when the foundling didn't even try to get up. Which was smart, because between the dar'jetii's foundling and Jango's ad'ika, there was no comparison.

Jango and Jaster kicked their shebs into action, however, when Obi'ika foolishly removed his helmet.

What is he thinking!? Jango wanted to scream but he was busy pulling his weapons.

The two were forced to stop speaking, however, when Obi'ika engaged the older Sith in combat. Jango and Jaster closed in on the elder Sith, and so distracted by Obi-Wan he made no heed to his approaching death.

If he thought they were fast before, it was nothing to what he was seeing now. They twirled around each other like leaves caught in the wind.

They were talking, but Jango couldn't hear their voices over the rapid fire sound of lightsabers clashing together.

Not stealth weapons.

Then something odd happened. Obi-Wan should have been exhausted by now, he should be waning…

Instead, he was gaining speed and strength. The pleased face of the old man slipped, whose hood had fallen back to reveal orange hair turning white.

Then the man screamed in rage as his left hand was severed clean off, well, not just hand, but most of his forearm below the joint.

Then, with no apparent injury, Obi-Wan fainted.

"No!" Mace bellowed as he ran toward Obi'ika.

Jango and Jaster moved as one, years of fighting at each other's side so that neither of them had to guess what the other would do.

Jaster got hold of the old man's good hand, taking a harmless scrap from the saber on his helmet and shoulder plate as he snapped the man's wrist.

Jango jabbed the barrel of his blaster into the man's eye socket and pulled the trigger, several times over.

The body fell to the ground, smelling of burned flesh. His face, which Jango thought vaguely looked like some Senator from the Outer Rim, wasn't so much a face anymore as a whole with face-like pieces surrounding it.

Jango dropped to his knees as Jaster took guard.

The jetii was holding Obi-Wan, whose face was without pain, relaxed, perhaps even a bit beatific.

Obi'ika had nightmares every night.

It hit Jango, seeing him like this, how young his ad'ika truly was. His foundling was so competent in all that he did that it was a startling reminder how small he was still.

"What is wrong with him?" Jango ripped off his glove so he could find Obi-Wan's pulse.

Mace put his forehead to Obi'ika's. Tears ran down that dark face, landing on Obi'ika's fair cheeks. Mace's voice was pained as he squeezed his eyes tight, a few more tears escaping. "He let go."

"Let go of what?" Jango demanded.

Mace didn't answer immediately and Jaster put a hand on Jango's shoulder.

The jetii finally said, "Life. He let go of life. He's with the Force now."

"No," Jango growled. "He isn't injured, he still has a pulse!"

The jetii paused, then let out a long breath. "I will try speaking with him."

Jango snarled, but the jetii was already still, no longer rocking like he had been as he cradled Obi-Wan to him.

Jango slipped Obi'ika's glove off then threaded their fingers together. He could feel his ad'ika's heart beating. Weak as it was, it still beat. The muscle doing what it was supposed to be doing in trying to live.

He prayed to whatever magic existed in the galaxy that it would spare Obi-Wan.

"Come back," Jango pleaded quietly. "Please, ner ad'ika, come back."


Light-years away, Master Qui-Gon Jinn put a hand over his heart as a thread of a bound, a long dormant familiarity he hadn't felt in years spasmed to life, a fish man's line going taught.

The pain he felt was indescribable.

"Qui-Gon?" Tahl asked worriedly, placing a hand on his back.

A moment later, darkness such as he had never encountered before washed through him. His knees buckled as he let the pain go into the Force without breaking the thread that arched in agony so pure it was beyond his senses to translate.

He collapsed against the wall, his legs useless beneath him as Tahl helped him down to the cool stones.

"Qui-Gon!"

He couldn't breathe.

Tahl put a hand on his chest, leaning into his side. "It isn't you, Qui-Gon, it isn't you."

Qui-Gon sucked in a breath as an ocean of the Cosmic Force, driven by the Dark Side, flooded the Living Force.

The Living Force fed the Cosmic Force, that was the order of things. Foresight sometimes straddled between the two.

But this? This was like fitting infinity in a cup.

Infinity being the Force, the cup being the Jedi.

The Padawan.

Qui-Gon's Padawan.

"What is that?" Tahl asked.

He closed his eyes and followed the cord.

Between him and Xanatos the line had been severed years ago, there was no other.

He had no other Padawan.

Or did he?

He remembered the day in the archives when little Obi-Wan had run into his arms as he tried getting away from Xanatos. Qui-Gon had slammed his shields down, cutting his apprentice out.

Obi-Wan shouldn't have felt anything but the absence of a Master's Force signature. But the youngling had reacted as if it were a bond between them that Qui-Gon was cutting.

And unlike Xanatos, Obi-Wan had been touching Qui-Gon. Without intention, if they had shared a bond it could have survived.

Letting go of his need to breathe or swim, he let his body take care of itself as he delved into the Force, following that thinning thread of silver light leading him through the dark.

He had never seen someone fall to the Dark like this, to retain their light.

When he reached its end, he found Obi-Wan.

He had grown some since last Qui-Gon had seen him. He was lean, his cheekbones a bit too sharp, but he did have some muscle mass on him.

He wore a black suit like the underarmour of a Mandalorian's armour. He sat cross-legged and so very peaceful, it was impossible to believe or equivocate this child being the source of the pain and darkness Qui-Gon was sensing.

But as Qui-Gon watched, he saw Obi-Wan beginning to fade into the Force.

It was slow, so impossibly slow…

But he was dying, and at the rate at which it was happening, Qui-Gon had to wonder if he was physically dying or if…

Or if he had given up.

"Obi-Wan?" Qui-Gon asked as he approached.

Grey eyes open to look up at him, a world-weary smile curled his lips. "Hello, Master."

Qui-Gon knelt in front of him, glancing up at the ocean of darkness above them, pin-pricked by stars that he recognized as the Jedi scattered across the galaxy.

"They have a chance now."

Qui-Gon pulled his attention back to their lost Padawan. "What do you mean, a chance?"

Obi-Wan was looking up through the Force as well. "The Force showed me what would be. All the stars snuffed out because of our mistakes; my failings."

"What?"

Obi-Wan caught his gaze. "It's all right, Master. The future is always in motion, and it has moved on from that. I did my part."

Qui-Gon did not at all like the finality in that statement.

"You were missed, Padawan. All were happy to learn you survived." Some they hadn't informed yet, given that Obi-Wan was still officially missing in action.

"I don't matter."

"You do," Qui-Gon insisted.

"Not anymore," Obi-Wan said with dry humour.

Qui-Gon caught the boy's hand. "You do."

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes at him. "I am no one, who belongs nowhere."

Qui-Gon snapped, "You are wrong."

The boy snorted. "It's my name."

"What is?"

"My name, Obi-Wan Kenobi, it literally means No One from Nowhere."

Qui-Gon blinked. "Oh… Mine means Cultivating Life Energy."

He wasn't at all sure why he said that, but he was glad he did, because it earned him a laugh and a touch of blue shone in the Padawan's eyes.

"Oh my," Obi-Wan said. "That's a bit on the nose. Your parents were wise."

"I suppose so," Qui-Gon said. "Are you coming home to us, Obi-Wan?"

Obi-Wan squeezed his hand. "I'm returning to the Force, Master."

"No," Qui-Gon said again.

Obi-Wan's peaceful demeanour shifted in the blink of an eye as yanked his hand back and snarled, "Haven't I done enough? I have done everything you asked of me! I'm tired, Master." His voice caught, rage fading into broken desperation. "I'm so tired."

Qui-Gon refrained from telling him that he hadn't asked Obi-Wan to do anything, and said instead, "You have done more than enough, Padawan. Of course you must rest, but don't die. Don't give up on life."

Obi-Wan pushed to his feet, radiating anger. "I'm done! I've done my part."

Qui-Gon stood as well. "So now it is time to focus on you. The war is over, Obi-Wan."

He laughed. "I killed the Sith, I saved Mandalore, and I saved the Jedi—or, at least, I pushed you to save yourselves. I'm done, Qui-Gon Jinn. Sign me out and let me go. I let you go when the time came, you owe me."

Qui-Gon shook his head, and suddenly a second presence was there with them.

Obi-Wan groaned. "Go away. Just let me go."

Mace scowled at him. "You're breaking your father's heart."

Qui-Gon winced as his old friend went right for the guilt card. There were reasons Mace made a good politician.

Obi-Wan crossed his arms. "He's better off without me."

"None of us are," Qui-Gon and Mace said together.

Obi-Wan shook his head. "Please, just let me go."

"No," they said together.

"I hurt!" Obi-Wan exclaimed, finally yelling at them. "I'm done with this! I'm tired of trying to be someone! I'm tired of living! Don't you understand how alone I've been? What I've done for you!? I've killed for both Mandalore and the Order. I saw you both fall, and now that I know you will be alright without me, I want to move on. I'm not your soldier anymore. It is time for rest."

Obi-Wan closed his eyes, tears falling down his cheeks. "I want the pain to stop, I don't want to hurt anymore. Please, I just don't want to hurt anymore."

Mace stepped forward. "Come home, Obi-Wan. You can rest, there is time to heal."

Obi-Wan motioned to the vision around them, a manifestation of the Force for human minds to process. An ocean ready to sweep Obi-Wan away from this life.

Qui-Gon's horror was growing larger by the moment. No one this young should feel this way.

Mace took another step forward. "Come back to us, Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan shook his head, stepping back. "It's over, Mace. I've fallen, the Order would never take me back as I am now."

"You're wrong," Mace said with heat.

Obi-Wan sighed, looking at Vaapad Master with an exasperated expression, as if Mace was being naive. "We were friends once, Mace. But you don't know me anymore."

Mace frowned, but extended his hand to Obi-Wan. "I've walked in light and shadow all my life. I can help you find the surface again, if you but give me a chance."

Obi-Wan didn't answer immediately, and when he did, he sounded so very sad. "I can't watch you all die again. I can't watch Mandalore make mistakes… I can't take the pain any longer. I am ready to let go, I've done my part."

"But you haven't lived your life," Qui-Gon said.

Obi-Wan snorted. "I've lived two, actually." He glanced up as the illusion of the deep sea undulated above them, threatening to fall on them like a guilitatine's blade. "You both need to leave or you might slip away with me."

Qui-Gon could feel his own stubbornness echoed in the Force as well as Mace's as they both stood firm.

Obi-Wan sighed audibly before telling them, "Get out of my head."

"I'm not letting you give up," Mace returned with surety. "You owe Feemor an apology, as well as Master Ali-Alann and Master Tholme. Quinlan kept your secrets, will you punish him for that? Your buir and your ba'buir are here with you, will you make them watch you die?"

Obi-Wan's lips thinned and his voice was tight when he said, "I gave everything I had to give. I betrayed them, I betrayed the Order, and I betrayed myself, as well as the Force. I crossed every line I vowed not to. Let me die with honour. Please, just let me go."

Mace crossed the space between them. Dropping to one knee, he took both Obi-Wan's hands in his. "Then let us take care of you. You don't have to try so hard, you don't have to give all yourself away. The Force is with you, Obi-Wan, it will forgive you, you will be forgiven by all those who love you."

"What I had, Mace," Obi-Wan sighed. "It was beautiful. I ruined it, and I don't regret doing what I had to do, but I don't want to live like this any longer."

Mace squeezed his hands. "Enlightenment is not a permanent state, it comes and goes with the tide. But the waves always return to shore, reclaiming the land it once possessed. Everything you had, everything you gave, everything you were, it is not lost, Padawan. I won't let you drown."

Obi-Wan shook his head. "I can't choose, Mace. I can't make that choice. I cannot be either Mandalorian and Jedi, I am both. I've lost so much of who I am, but that I know. My heart belongs to both my aliit and the Order. I would rather join the Force than say goodbye to one. It would be a half-life, and I am done breaking myself."

"I can promise you both," Mace said.

Obi-Wan huffed a laugh. "Liar."

He attempted to step back, but Mace held him firm.

"I swear it on my life," Mace said. "I will join your clan for the opportunity to lead you back to the light."

"Why?" Obi-Wan asked.

The ocean above them stirred, Qui-Gon looked up as the stars flickered out of view as the blackness brightened to midnight blue.

Neither Mace nor Obi-Wan noticed.

Mace cupped Obi-Wan's cheeks. "Because you are deserving, and because I love you, my Padawan."

It was a father's love for a child, but deeper.

It was difficult to put into words the nature of the bond between Master and apprentice. Older sibling, mentor… Words failed.

Mace had chosen Obi-Wan years ago, putting his trust and hopes into that future bond. Having it be ripped out from beneath him, without even the chance to ask or say goodbye, had broken Mace.

There was a vulnerability to taking on a new apprentice and there was no preparing anyone for the depth those relations could take.

Qui-Gon was close enough to see Obi-Wan's eyes turn blue as the ocean roared above them, cascading down on them, throwing all into chaos. The last thing Qui-Gon saw was Obi-Wan bowing his head and Mace wrapping himself protectively around the Padawan.

Qui-Gon came back to himself, Tahl cradling him in her lap.

"Shhh," she hushed him, rubbing circles on his back.

Only then did he realize he was crying. Exhaustion hit him like being hit by a turbo train. He let Tahl hold him as he relearned how to breathe and centre himself in a Force that felt so much smaller than it had before.

Yet more bearable.

"Is Obi-Wan alright?" Tahl asked.

"No," Qui-Gon answered honestly.

Even if Obi-Wan chose to live, it would be a long road to recovery.


AN: And so ends the first arch, told you Mace would make a comeback. Now you get Mace and Jango learning to co-parent together! Thoughts, iguanas, or feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

WARNING: I'm exhausted and this chapter is way longer than I was ready for. So it's very much in the spirit of 'We die like men', that I am posting this chapter. By which of course, I mean the men in Star Wars who scream that iconic scream as they are thrown off ledges.

Special thank yous to the few people reviewing on Fanfic dot net, and some many thank you to the many people reviewing on AO3. I will respond to each one, I just need more time.

Chapter 19 - Words Fail

Jango watched the Jetii open his eyes, and even with Obi-Wan's pulse steadying beneath his hand, he still waited for the Senator's confirmation.

Mace swallowed visibly as he sat up, "He'll make it, we should still give him medical care."

"Why?" Jaster asked as Jango pulled Obi-Wan into his arms.

"Because he just used enough power to take down several skyscrapers and attempted to disconnect his spirit from his body. Depending on how his brain processes that, he may or may not go into shock or drop into a coma," Mace explained, as he collected the extra lightsabers.

"Will he be okay?" the Zabrak boy Obi-Wan had found asked.

"Yes," Jango growled.

"Come," Jaster said to the foundling.

Those golden eyes widened, "What?"

Jaster gestured to the body, "He was your only guardian? Do you have a home to go back to?"

The boy hesitated before saying, "I- I don't want to."

"Then you may come with us," Jaster said, moving them all forward. "What is your name?"

"Maul," the boy answered.

"I am Jaster Mereel, he is Jango Fett, and-"

"Senator Mace Windu, he's a Jedi," Maul said with a sneer of anger that overcame his apparent fear.

Jango had never related more to the sentiment of hating the Jedi than in that moment. Of course, he knew without the Jetiiese Obi-Wan would have died.

It didn't make him feel better.

They moved swiftly through the streets, and by the time they reached the Salvation, Depa had their guests settled in.

Jango adored his ship, but it wasn't a particularly large vessel and all these people made it a tight fit.

Maul stuck close to Jaster, clearly not interested in the Jetiiese.

Jango allowed Jaster to fly his ship to Kashyyyk as he tended to Obi-Wan, hooking him up to a breathing unit and an I.V..

It was strange seeing him so still. Obi-Wan had received numerous injuries and earned numerous scars over the years, but nothing dropped him for long. He tried not to think about what was waiting for them at the Jetii Temple. Fear turned in his gut at the thought that Obi-Wan —no matter what Mace claimed— might choose the Jedi.

He didn't sleep as the hours passed, and everyone was wise enough not to talk to him.

When they came out of hyperspace, the green-blue planet came into focus.

More green and blue than Mandalore was, though once their own planet had nearly been as green.

Most of it hadn't survived their wars.

He could only hope that Obi-Wan would.


Obi-Wan knew he dreamed, knew because Cody sat with him in the garden outside the Mandalore court house.

Obi-Wan greeted him in Mando'a.

Cody smirked down at him and responded in the same language, "You're a cute kid, General."

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes, "I'm not a kid."

"Sure you are, you have more anger issues than General Skywalker and more raging hormones than Commander Tano."

"Not fair."

Cody raised a brow, "Life isn't fair."

"How are you even here?" Obi-Wan griped, because this wasn't a memory of his past or his once future.

He could also sense Cody's signature in the Force.

Cody reached out a hand and ruffled his hair, "The Force is a part of everyone, Alor'ika."

Obi-Wan blinked fast, "How can you possibly forgive me?"

Cody brought their foreheads together in a Keldabe, "There is nothing to forgive."

Obi-Wan let out a long breath, knowing it would be a long time before he could possibly accept that. "Sometimes I feel like I've taken your place, and other times… I always got the impression you disliked Jango Fett, and by siding with him, I'm betraying you somehow."

Cody pulled back leaning back on his hands in the lush grass. "You're taking Boba's place, not mine, not anyone in the GAR, but you are right about one thing; I hated Jango."

"Past tense?" Obi-Wan inquired.

"Do you hate Darth Vader?" Cody asked. "Barriss Offee, Asajj Ventress, Darth Maul?"

Obi-Wan wasn't sure what to say to that except, "I will find Anakin, and Palpatine is dead."

"Jango Fett is not the man he would have been. I hate that he abandoned us, that he helped enslave us, and that he only took one out of all us, only one to call his son, only one to treat as a real person. But that man is not your Buir. He hasn't lost his morality or principles. He's still a killer, but he cares more about the future of your people, of you than he does about revenge."

"So you forgive, just like that."

Cody smiled, "When I return to the world, General, things will not be the same, and I will no longer carry the scars I did."

Obi-Wan smiled back, "I can't wait to meet you again."

Cody touched his cheek, "They are waiting for you, Alor'ika. Remember, you are not the man you were before, you needn't hold onto your guilt when you have some much to live for."

Again, Cody lowered his forehead to his, "We will meet again, Vod'ika."

Obi-Wan came awake with a start, he coughed as the strange smell of dried bacta hit his nose. In no time at all he was sitting up and had ripped off the breathing mask and IV.

Which, a moment later, incurred his buir's wrath as he got in Obi-Wan's face and growled as he put a clean gauze to his arm where he had ripped the needle out.

Obi-Wan relaxed.

If Jango was growling at him about needles, he was safe.

"Vor entye, Buir," Obi-Wan thanked, the words literally translating to 'I accept a debt.'

Jango snarled, "You best believe you're in debt. What in the kriffing hells were you thinking? If you ever do that to me again—" his words cut off.

Obi-Wan could feel his Buir's frustration, his agitation, but above all else, fear.

His heart twisted and once Jango finished putting a basic patch on the minor self-inflicted injury, he threw his arms around Jango's neck and said with feeling, "N'eparavu takisit, Buir."

I'm sorry, Father.

Jango wrapped his arms around Obi-Wan, enfolding him in a crushing embrace.

Jango's relief, his love, radiated from him, and Obi-Wan selfishly wrapped that feeling around himself in the Force.

It felt so good to be open to the Force, even if his shields were ragged and the Dark Side encroached on the edges of his awareness.

It was like seeing in colour, like losing your sense of smell and then being able to scent desserts, it was like breathing free when you had been held hostage by a ventilator for years.

Jango held onto him for a long time but it was still too soon when he pulled back, taking Obi-Wan's hands in his, shaking them slightly.

The Force seemed giddy as it translated what Jango was so clearly broadcasting.

His buir didn't want to shake his hands, he wanted to shake sense back into Obi-Wan.

But that type of sense was something Obi-Wan had given up a long time ago.

"What were you thinking?" Jango asked, catching his gaze with dark eyes.

"I don't particularly like the medical wing," Obi-Wan said, evading his real question.

Jango squeezed down on his hands, "The Dar'Jetii, Obi'ika."

Obi-Wan shook his head, "What happened to Maul?"

His buir knew he was a Jetii, knew he had been lying, and had brought him back to the Temple on Kashyyyk.

Obi-Wan had never been here in this lifetime, but he could sense the trees beyond these walls, the swirl of the oceans and rivers like heart's blood flowing through the planet. Then were the points of light scattered everywhere around him.

Stars burning bright, and would continue burning unmolested by Darth Sidious.

Obi-Wan knew he was distracting himself, knew he didn't want to have this conversation with Jango.

He could remember the words Mace had said to him, that he could be both Mandalorian and Jetii.

But Mace Windu did not speak for Jango Fett.

There were no guarantees that his buir or ba'buir would understand and forgive the deceptions.

"Why didn't you tell us you were a Jedi foundling?" Jango asked.

Obi-Wan sighed, looking away, his shoulders rounding.

Jango put an ungloved hand to his cheek and turned him back to look at him.

"Why, ner ad'ika?" Jango pressed.

Obi-Wan huffed a laugh, "As if you would have accepted me if I told you that."

Jango's jaw ticked, "Perhaps not immediately, we would have attempted to contact the Order-"

Obi-Wan's anger spiked and he tore out of Jango's grasp, "And risk a war? You couldn't have —the clan couldn't have— tolerated the Jedi being in the same space as them. If the Jedi had insisted, if I had asked you not to send me back— I wasn't of age, the Jedi were my legal guardians."

"You think that would have stopped us?" Jango growled. "If you hadn't wanted to go back, we would have-"

"Gone to war for?" Obi-Wan asked. "Yes, because that's what I wanted. To worsen Jetii and Mando relations."

"What did you want?" Jango asked.

The door to the room swished open and Master Che walked in, trailed by Bant.

Che didn't seem to have any reservations about getting into Jango's personal space.

Which seemed like a bad life choice.

But to Obi-Wan's surprise, Jango gave ground, moving to stand by Obi-Wan's side as Che gently looked over his vitals.

Che's voice was oddly hushed as she asked, "How are you feeling, Obi-Wan?"

She wasn't meeting his gaze, which seemed so unlike the experienced twi'lek.

"Master Che?" he asked cautiously.

Che stopped, taking a breath, she looked up to meet his eyes. Hers were blue, made bluer by her blue skin.

"Don't you ever," she threatened. "Fake your death again, young Padawan."

He blinked, "I'm not a Padawan."

Which probably wasn't the right thing to say but Master Che simply made a noncommittal sound, "We will see, young on. Now, how do you feel?"

Obi-Wan shrugged, "Pretty good, all things considered."

Jango growled in Basic, "You nearly died."

Obi-Wan shrugged again, "Thank you for killing Darth Sidious. What happened to Maul?"

Jango glowered at him, "Jaster adopted him, and he didn't want to come to the Jetii's place of power, so they left."

Obi-Wan flinched, not because he was against Maul being given a real chance, but because his ba'buir had left him behind.

Mace might have promised, but Jango hadn't agreed to any arrangement.

"You've been in a healing trance for a week," Master Che said. "You are not cleared to leave the Temple for another month, Padawan Kenobi." She gave Jango a look and the Mandalorian bowed his head in acquiescence.

Was Jango going to leave him here?

"Kenobi?"

Obi-Wan turned his attention to Bant Eerie, a Bant who had been in his creche, but in this lifetime, had never known him well.

"Hi, Bant."

She narrowed her silver eyes at him, "How could you betray the Order?"

Obi-Wan flinched back from her.

You betrayed me! Anakin's words echoed in his mind.

The Force rang with his fear, the darkness rising like a hound offered a treat.

"Get out!" Jango roared at Bant at the same time Che chastised, "Padawan Eerie!"

But Bant had already started running for the door.

For a moment, Obi-Wan had seen himself through her eyes.

An outsider.

A monster.

The ringing danger he and Jango radiated in the Force.

His own darkness.

Obi-Wan didn't belong here and Jango wasn't going to take him back either.

Unshed tears burned his eyes.

He had saved his people, both the Mandalorians and the Jedi.

And in the process lost them both.

It was better than losing them to death and war. But Obi-Wan was exhausted and the thought that he would be cast back into the galaxy alone and without purpose, was more overwhelming than the Darkness that beckoned to him.

Che touched him and he nearly jumped out of his skin, "Do not take it to heart, Obi-Wan, your funeral was traumatic for many."

Obi-Wan didn't have the words to make up for what he had done.

"Rest," Che said, exchanging a look with Jango, who once again nodded.

Once she left, Jango sighed.

Obi-Wan found himself studiously studying his hands. He might have been in a coma for days upon days, but he was so tired.

So very tired.

Jango touched his head, "We can talk later, Obi'ika but we will talk."

Obi-Wan risked a glance, and Jango's worry had clearly overcome what else he had been feeling.

Jango guided him back down on the bed, "Rest."

Obi-Wan allowed himself to be tucked in, and with the exhaustion heavy in his limbs, he fell into sleep as soon as he closed his eyes, but with the Dark singing to him, he saw nothing but nightmares.

It was no less than he deserved for the pain he had caused the people he loved.


"How is he?" Mace asked.

Jango sat tensely at Obi-Wan's side, he was grateful that the Jetii didn't push to do the same, but he still visited daily.

They hadn't talked. In fact, the only person Jango had spoken to was the healer.

But now that Obi-Wan had woken, he knew he was just delaying the inevitable.

"You intend to take him from me, don't you?" Jango asked.

Mace raised a brow as he took the seat beside Jango, "He needs help."

Jango gritted his teeth, "What does that mean?"

"I made Obi-Wan a promise."

"What did you promise him?" Jango asked drily.

"It would require your consent," Mace hedged.

Jango raised a brow back at the Jetii, waiting.

Mace sighed, "I am stepping down as Senator of Coruscant. I would like Obi-Wan to become my Padawan, even if that means leaving the Order and joining your clan. Of course that would require your blessing."

Jango let out a long breath, hope fluttering in his chest that Obi-Wan could have both and remain with both.

"In the vein of transparency, I would willingly work for your Order if that meant I didn't have to be separated from him. He's fifteen, legally, he needs no guardian, but he-" he sighed, words failing him. "He gives too much, I don't trust him to take care of himself."

"You love him," Mace said.

"Is that against your Code?" Jango sneered.

Mace shook his head, "Against the Code, no, against some old traditions, perhaps, but traditions evolve. I believe that Obi-Wan is capable of balancing intimate relations and remaining within the Light."

"I thought you said he had fallen?" Jango asked, narrowing his eyes.

"The Light remains a part of him, he needs help finding his way back on solid ground, or he will continue to be a danger to himself and others. That doesn't make him a bad person."

Jango's lips thinned, "Che's Padawan upset Obi-Wan."

"How?" Mace asked.

"She said he had betrayed them."

"Bant was eight years old when Obi-Wan disappeared. We do warn our younglings about Mandalorians and losing a youngling… it does not happen. When we lose a Padawan, it is a tragedy and a rarity. But an Initiate? No, to lose a crechemate is a traumatic thing, we do not teach our younglings to be detached."

"When do you start teaching them to not care about their aliit?"

Mace smiled, "We teach them to extend the compassion and love they have for their crechmates and Master to the greater Order and to have compassion for all life."

Jango blinked, "That's… stupid. Do you know how many things in the galaxy would love to get their hands on a trained Force sensitive?"

"Better than you," Mace said. "Why do you think we train all our younglings to use a lightsaber? Because they're pretty?"

Jango could, begrudgingly, respect that. "That does explain why she called him a traitor, nor why her words hurt him so badly."

Mace sighed, "He lied to the Order and became a Mandalorian, ancient enemies of the Jedi."

Jango's heart ached, "He won't be welcomed here, will he?"

Mace smiled, "Obi-Wan always had trouble with his crachemates. He excelled fast and was able to grasp complicated theories quicker than his agemates. He was also Yoda's favourite."

"Great, so you all didn't help him with that?" Jango asked.

Mace huffed a laugh, "We can't choose his friends for him. He would grown closer to them in time. But you've already met Obi-Wan's best friend. He and Quin were inseparable, and he had friends among the older members of our Order. We are a community, a people, who a Jedi makes friends with is not restricted by age."

"Any luck discovering who Cody is?" Jango asked.

Mace shook his head, "What else can you tell me about him."

Jango opened his mouth to respond, but Mace held up a hand.

Jango bared his teeth, but Obi-Wan stirred a moment later.

"Obi'ika," Jango greeted.

Obi-Wan blinked up at him, his eyes a grey.

"Greetings, Padawan," Mace said. Then the Senator smiled. "You look surprised."

Obi-Wan rubbed his eyes as he sat up, "To see you two in a room together, yeah, that's surprising."

"And why is that, Obi'ika?"

Obi-Wan smiled and looked away, "Funny twist of fate."

Jango frowned, he was so done with Obi-Wan's secrets, "He helped get the scientists to safety."

Obi-Wan stared at them, "Mace helped you?"

Jango grimaced at the amused smugness in his ad'ika's tone, "He was an asset."


Obi-Wan tried to hold it back, he really did try, but the image of Mace decapitating Jango flitted through his mind.

It should have been a sobering thought, but a part of him would always believe that what Jango had done to the clones, or rather not done for them, was a crime worthy of death.

His dream of Cody considering them different people only distanced that other Jango as not his buir.

Jango just wasn't that person, still possibly the deadliest man in the galaxy, but not driven by hate and revenge.

No, what drove his buir now was his love and hope for his people.

What made it funny was that when his buir admitted someone had helped him it was usually something dire. So the sheer kriffing irony of Mace Windu being the one to save Jango Fett was far too much.

"Ad'ika, you best not be laughing at me," Jango growled.

Obi-Wan broke, rolling onto his side laughing helplessly. Jango glared down at him for a minute before smirking and said in Mando'a, "I'll give you a reason to cry, Obi'ika."

Then his buir tortured him, going straight for the sides of his torso. Obi-Wan was still too tired to fight him off, so he did his best to curl around himself as he forgot how to breathe through peels of laughter.

When Jango finally let up, Obi-Wan was breathless. Jango was sitting beside him with a smile that seemed strained at the edges.

His buir leaned back to hit the button on the shades.

Obi-Wan turned and gaped at the view before him. The new Temple of Kashyyyk was built on the ocean's edge. The water was dark, the clouds thick with rain. It reminded him of Kamino, only kinder, more full of life. Even from the window, he could see the branches of trees stretching their arms out as if to taste the ocean's salty tears.

"Padawan Kenobi," Mace called his attention away from the view. "It is time we talk."

All the mirth was sucked out of him.

Which is why when his buir leaned over to the side table and passed him a cantine he had never been more grateful.

The tea would be on his side of the conversation.

It was also why, when his buir asked, "Why did you join our clan?"

Obi-Wan answered him.

"The Force showed me the fate of our peoples. The Senate was part of the Death Watch's treachory and sent the Jedi to kill our clan, the True Mandalorians. They killed almost everyone and you killed a few Jedi in turn. It caused Master Dooku to become a Sith and it led you too… well, you were out for revenge. With Adonai and Tor loose… they ruined Mandalore, eventually, and the Order was destroyed too. Knowing that, I knew that I had to change things."

Jango looked like he had a lot of questions, but he begin with, "The Jetiiese killed Jaster?"

"No," Obi-Wan said. "I'm pretty sure that it was Montross, seeing as you were the leader of the True Mandalorians by the time the Jedi got involved."

Jango's eyes widened, "That's how you knew-"

Obi-Wan shook his head, "No, I knew who was because in my time he hunted Jedi. I didn't place the event until I heard his name. We called it the Slaughter of the Seeker, because he murdered Master Feemor and the younglings with him."

Jango blinked, "You based attacking one of the most dangerous Mandalorians on a mystical vision?"

Obi-Wan frowned at him, "One, I was correct, two, he ripped ade apart at the limbs, and three, I was able to profile him in about two hours of holo searches. Also, why are you upset about that? I saved Jaster."

Jango tightened his fists, "I care because you were eleven years old."

Mace finally spoke up, "Those sound like very… detailed visions, Obi-Wan."

His shoulders rounded and he took a sip from the tea.

He didn't want to explain the time travel, he didn't know how to explain it. It would be easier to pass it off as visions.

But in his haste to answer Jango honestly, he had exposed himself to Mace's scrutiny.

Jango seemed to catch on to this because he came at another angle, "Where did you learn to fight in wars before returning to Stewjon, the Jedi claim they don't train soldiers?"

Obi-Wan looked toward Mace for help and was perfectly unsurprised to find Mace waiting for the same with zero pity.

Kark, Mace and Jango were going to tag team him.

Motherkriffar.

Despite dabbling in the Dark Side, there was nothing really grey about Mace. He had hard and clear limits, and although he respected candour he never trusted that anyone was how they appeared.

"I don't know how to explain it in a way that would make sense to you," Obi-Wan said.

It was the wrong thing to say and Obi-Wan flinched at the furious expression on his buir's face. Yet, Jango's voice remained calm, calm-ish, "Try that again, ner ad'ika."

Obi-Wan backtracked, "I don't mean you're not smart enough, I just don't know how to explain in a way that isn't creepy or- um… In a way that you'll believe me and understand what I mean. I think even the Jetiiese would have a hard time believing…" He flinched at Mace's scrutiny. Obi-Wan soldiered on, "The theory is possible, there are documented cases and legends but it's really improbable and most think it's just stories."

Jango looked like if he could kill the concept of religion and theoretical philosophy, he would and he would enjoy doing it.

"You are going to have to tell us one way or the other," Mace reasoned.

A thought crossed Jango's expression and he asked, "Does this have to do with losing your memories, ner ad'ika?"

Jango must have been talking with Jaster, which was normal.

Obi-Wan gave him a relieved look, and he didn't miss that his buir kept using familiar titles to stake claim on him in front of the Jedi.

It was funny, especially as his being taken back into the Order, no matter what Mace promised, had lesser probability than a snow ball's chance on Mustafar.

"You've been losing your memories," Mace asked worriedly. "Dignioused amnesia? Head injury?"

"No, not like that, I just have so much more to lose now. I mean from the time you and I spent that day together, before I had that seizure."

"The Force can give you seizures?" Jango asked, his anger shining through when he could direct at something rather than Obi-Wan.

He appreciated the effort.

"Buir, the Force has done a lot worse to me than that, but it was the kyber crystal not directly the Force. Anyway, I remember that space of time like I'm supposed to, its real memories, but everything else? It's like I know what happened, and I remember a lot of practical things but more like a book I've studied than something I lived. The military stuff was easy, the trauma of it. I knew who I lost, remembering what my decisions cost us, those are things that are easy to remember.

"For instance, I can speak nearly two dozen languages. The textbook stuff, the math, the maps, landscapes, terrains, all of the tactical, I can recall almost instantly. But my Jedi training? I can't remember how it felt, how to wield the Force like I used to. I don't know how to apply our philosophies to the metaphysics. I can't remember that, I can't remember faces or names too well unless I have a recent vision of them.

"They are just characters in a holodrama to me now, people I know I should love, and a handful I still do, but mostly those connections meaningless to me."

Jango shook his head, "You were eleven, how many people could you have met, how can you remember planets, battlefields, and languages when you never left that kriffing Temple?"

Mace backed him up, "I know your classes, Obi-Wan, I taught them. Those skills are ones you had not possessed before."

Obi-Wan supposed it was time to bite the baster ray. It came out rough, "I have a lot of visions."

Two very unimpressed faces observed him.

"About the future," Obi-Wan finished lamely.

Jango lost his patience and Obi-Wan was sort of awed he lasted this long.

"What does that change?" his buir pressed. "What does it matter that you are losing your memories of visions? Surely you don't think you're a prophet?"

"No," Obi-Wan said, taking in a bracing breath before saying it plainly. "I don't think that, but I do know that I am a time traveller."

There was a long silence.

Jango just stared at him as if he was waiting for the punchline. When Obi-Wan held firm, he looked to Mace.

Mace shrugged, "Very improbable. But when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Jango was furious, "Who in the Jetii hells came up with that patronising proverb?"

"Jedi Master Canon Doyle," Mace said, taking the question at face value.

Jango glowered at him.

"Why did you cut yourself off from the Force?" Mace asked, ignoring the enraged Mandalorian.

Obi-Wan sighed, "A few reasons. I began having problems almost immediately. I was a Master Jedi in truth and with the mind and body of an eleven-year-old initiate. I had all the connection of a Master Jedi to the Force, but not the control or the mental development to handle that power. I noticed my memories fading, so who I was no longer is who I am or who I would have been. Once I was on my own away from the Temple, enough of my memories had faded that aside from shielding, I didn't know how to handle the Force. Not without help."

There was sympathy in Mace's eyes, but he didn't hold back on his questions, "But why cut yourself off from it? You must have known, have felt yourself being pushed toward the dark side."

Obi-Wan didn't want to tell him, but with his memories fresh in his mind… he needed to tell someone, and Mace would understand better than Jango in this.

"I time travelled from almost a year into a galactic civil war. Things were not pleasant. People were dying, Jedi, my troops, and so many, many innocents. I thought I could change things for the better. When I killed Montross, I thought I had that power. I didn't enjoy hiding my powers, but the Force was with me."

"So what changed?" Mace asked.

"The nightmares," Jango said, his voice hushed.

Obi-Wan nodded, "The Force showed me beyond what I had lived. I saw a future beyond…"

He didn't want to say, and for once, Jango and Mace didn't hurry him along.

Obi-Wan had been willing to face death, surely he had the strength to face his failure. "We played into the Sith's traps, and it destroyed everything. Mandalore was plunged back into ruin, the Temple was destroyed, the Jedi eradicated. We were hunted into extinction, us and the Mandalorians. The Republic became an Empire, and the Sith would allow no one to live who could challenge them."

"Fear of this future turned you against the Force?" Mace asked.

Obi-Wan bowed his head and squeezed the truth out, "It was my fault."

Jango made a harsh sound and nearly yelled, "Not everything is about you, Obi'ika! A galactic war is not your doing!"

Obi-Wan leaned away from him, partially because he wanted to feel Jango's anger as his own, but mostly from shame. "You don't understand, I was at the heart of all of it."

"It wasn't your fault!" Jango argued stubbornly.

Obi-Wan's own irritation rose hot in him, "It was my fault! I was on Mandalore during the clan wars. I was the one who began the damn war on Geonosis, I forced the Republic's hand. It was my fault! My fault my Master died! My fault that A-"

He choked on the name, his heart bleeding.

I hate you!

Obi-Wan had forgotten so much, lost so much, but he could never forget his love for Anakin. He couldn't forget his Padawan burning on the shore of a river lava. Burning, limbless, and him Obi-Wan, leaving him there.

"Qui-Gon Jinn was your first Master," Mace guessed correctly.

Obi-Wan nodded.

"If he was your senior, his death couldn't have been your fault," Jango said.

Obi-Wan shook his head, "You don't understand."

"Stop telling me that," Jango snapped. "Just because your magic gives your nightmares teeth, it doesn't mean they are true. At least not how you perceive them to be."


Jango was having such a hard time not just taking Obi-Wan and flying as far from this place and these people as he could.

"My Padawan became a Sith!" Obi-Wan yelled at him.

If there was one thing Jango hated, it was eating his own words. Because the look on the Senator's face told him that Jango didn't understand.

But he tried to say, "Your son?"

Obi-Wan made a pained sound, "My brother. Buir, I failed him in every conceivable way."

"So you lost faith in the Force?" Mace asked.

Obi-Wan huffed a watery laugh, "I failed as Jedi. I knew that fighting the Force would backfire."

"Then why do it?" Jango growled.

Obi-Wan averted his eyes.

Jango knelt before him, taking the forgotten tea from his hands and putting it on the side table.

"Obi'ika." he warned.

Obi-Wan's voice was quiet enough so the others couldn't hear. "The Jedi Order didn't want me last time. No one did, not even the Master who reluctantly accepted me. I was only promoted because I was good at waging war, no one actually wants me as a Jedi Knight. I didn't want anything to do with them."

On the one hand, it felt like a victory. Jango might have spooked Obi-Wan into feeling like he needed to hide, but it would seem that was partly due to his upbringing in the Order. Which meant it was likely Obi'ika wouldn't leave him or their clan.

Hatake that you smug bastards.

But on the other hand, Obi-Wan still needed help with his gifts which meant Jango would have to defend the karking space wizards.

Kark everything.

"But why do that if you knew it would hurt you? You knew we took Koska to Kashyyyk. I know I made that joke in poor taste, but why limit yourself? Why give up?"

"Because, we were winning. The Order changed so much, I knew they wouldn't fall into the Sith's traps. Mandalore was stabilised and if the worse happened, I had safeguards in place to reveal the identity of the Sith Master to you. We killed Senator Palpatine, everything I could possibly do, I did."

Jango grit his teeth, "No, Obi'ika, it is not enough. You are a child."

"I wasn't always," Obi-Wan argued. "I've had my second chance, the galaxy can go on without me now and everything will be okay."

"It will not be okay," Jango growled.

Obi-Wan shook his head stubbornly, "Don't you get it? I am not who I was or who I would have become. I don't know how old I am. I don't know who I want to be and a part of me is constantly terrified it will happen again; that I will fail again and everything will have been pointless!"

Jango cupped Obi-Wan's face in his hands, "You look at me, you are not going anywhere. I know who you are," Jango tapped his heart, then his forehead then offered his hand out in a gesture of love unconditional.

"You are my son who is beyond extraordinary, who is as kind as you are intelligent. But no matter how gifted you are, you're still just a teenager." Jango brushed away the stray tears with his thumbs. "You are angry and scared and despite all that you know you are lost, and that is natural Obi'ika. But you are not alone. You might not recall feeling this way last time because you were safer, because you had an aliit you were secure with and a power you did not cut yourself off from.

"But you are not alone."

Obi-Wan looked at him, speechless, until he managed, "You forgive me for the deceptions? You're not exiling me from the clan?"

"I am angry," Jango said. "I am angry with myself that I didn't make you feel safe enough to be yourself around us. I am angry with you because your decisions harmed you. But there is nothing you could ever do to change the fact that we are aliit and you are ner ad'ika. Our alor'ika."

Obi-Wan's eyes turned a flawless blue.

"I made you a promise," Mace cut in.

Jango's hand flinched as he fought not to reach for his primary blaster.

Obi-Wan looked at the Senator, and Jango pulled back to let the two have their moment.

Jango loved all of his son, and that, regrettably meant, accepting the Jetiiese into their clan.

Mace stood and asked with strange formality, "I had planned to ask you this when you returned from Stewjon."

Obi'ika found his voice, "I am not the same person I was then. I am a Mandalorian. I will not leave my aliit as long as I am welcome among them."

"You always will be," Jango said in Mando'a.

Which earned him a partial smile turned his way.

Mace bowed his head, "As I promised, I will not make you choose between us. You are both Mandalorian and Jedi."

Obi-Wan watched the older Jetii with breath held, tear tracks still damp on his face. No matter what memories Obi-Wan had, Jango knew he was a teenager in truth. And regardless, no one ever stopped needing a family.

Hearing that Obi'ika had saved Jaster was a chilling thought. Jango didn't know who he would be without his buir at his back over the course of the war.

Mace asked, "Obi-Wan Kenobi, will you honour me in becoming my Padawan."

Obi-Wan blinked back tears, "Yes, Master Windu."

Jango's heart twisted in how those words sounded less like acceptance and more like a plea for help.


AN: Thoughts, genets, or feedback, pretty please?

Chapter Text

Alright, ner adate, I have a problem: I have over fifty pages of notes on character beats. However, aside from the finale —ten years from this point— I don't have many world interaction plot moments. If you have requests for what you would like me to put these characters through /Evil Laugh\, SPEAK NOW, or this story ends with a few more fluff chapters and a time skip finale :D

Chapter 20 - In These Small Hours

Obi-Wan didn't know what to say now that Mace was going to be his Master.

For once, his indeterminate age was not a problem. He had still been a Padawan at age twenty five and he needed help.

Holy Force did he need help. A part of him wanted to start right away, another part of him didn't want Mace to see how very far had fallen.

Obi-Wan stood, his buir catching his forearm to steady him off the bed. He waved Jango off, using the wall to get to the fresher.

He needed a shower, he smelled like bacta and the healthier he looked the sooner he could get out the healers wing.

He had no desire to run into Bant again.

Or any of his other creche mates for that matter, Bant was the loving and forgiving one.

Siri would probably spit on him.

He sighed, once he was alone.

Jango hadn't disowned him.

The Jedi, more specifically, Mace, wasn't abandoning him.

It was more than he deserved and he would be forever grateful.


Another man entered Obi-Wan's room, to which Jango had two simultaneous thoughts, where was Quinlan Vos and why the kriff were there so many giant Jedi?

Like Qui-Gon Jinn, this man was tall and broad shouldered. Like Jinn, his brown hair was long and pulled back from his face in a single braid.

"How is he?" the man asked without greeting.

Mace rose, "He's alright. Master Ali-Alann, this is Jango Fett, the man who adopted Obi-Wan."

"Which isn't past tense," Jango snapped. "So move along."

He had to tolerate Mace, Jango wasn't going to extend the curtsy to any other until Obi-Wan decided if they were going to stay or leave this place.

Ali-Alann stepped in to square off with Jango, and unlike the other Jedi, his face conveyed his emotions plainly, "He is my youngling, and you are the one responsible for throwing him into war."

Jango opened his mouth, but the Jetii cut him off.

"No, you will listen to me," his voice was low but heavy with emotion. "Jango Fett. You have endangered one of mine, and whether or not Obi-Wan agreed to it is irrelevant. You failed to keep him safe."

Jango snarled, "That's rich, I found him half drowned in a river."

The Jetii radiated hostility, reminding Jango of a fathier protecting its foal, "And I was the one left to repair the damage done to him when he was first brought to the Temple. Half-starved, dying from hypothermia, completely convinced that we would turn on him like your people had. Afraid to use his power, for fear of being killed."

Jango bristled, "Who in the hells are you?"

Something hard as Beskar flashed in the man's eyes, "I'm the one who raised him."

Mace stepped in, "Fett, this Obi-Wan's creche Master. Our younglings are raised by a community of Masters, but Master Ali-Alann was Obi-Wan's primary care giver."

Jango re-evaluated the man, but he couldn't quite hold his tongue. "Obi'ika has never mentioned you."

The Jetii seemed to grow larger, pushing further into Jango's space. "Except I can say with absolute certainty that Obi-Wan has never doubted me. Can you say the same, Fett?"

Jango thought of how easy it would be to kill this man. He never would, but he very much would like to do so.

Mace put a hand on Ali-Alann's chest, "Master, please, Obi-Wan needs a lodestone, not more conflict."

Jango frowned as he tried to figure out the dynamics between the two Jetiiese. Jango had thought Mace, a Council member and a Senator would have taken seniority over the babysitter. Instead, Mace's demeanour and tone were deferential.

Ali-Alann's anger deflated and he stepped back from Jango. He realized it wasn't anger the Jetii had been feeling precisely, he had been worried and protective.

Mace caught his confused gaze, "Jedi Knights are trained to control their emotions. But creche Masters, while being extremely skilled in shielding and defusing energy into the Force, need to be more emotive to handle the younglings. Their duty is to give comfort and provide safe shelter. It is the duty of other teachers to help guide the younglings in the greater world."

"You're his father," Jango said, more confused by Jetii culture than he had ever been.

"I'm his family," Ali-Alann returned.

Jango had a sinking sensation that what he had previously thought had been a small circle of loved ones was much larger than he had perceived.

How much of himself had Obi-Wan hidden away?

"Master Ali-Alann?"

They all turned to the ad'ika, who was barefoot but wearing cream tunics and brown pants.

Jango was used to seeing Obi-Wan, they lived on the same small ship after all. But over the last few years, it had been blacks or in full armour.

But the Jetii robes suited him, hiding his brilliance as a fighter and war leader, and yet brought out the softer side of him. The part who would let himself be led around by three little girls, the boy who enjoyed tea, and the presence of green things.

"Young one," Ali-Alann said with so much warmth, Jango felt like an outsider.

Oki'ika's face crumbled and he ran into the Master Jetii's arms. Burying his face in the Master's robes, Obi-Wan's whole body was shaking with silent tears as he was enveloped in the older Jedi's outer robe.

Master Ali-Alann was murmuring soft nothings as he rubbed Obi-Wan's back. Unabashed tears fell from his closed eyes into Obi-Wan's hair that was still damp from the shower.

Mace jerked his chin toward the door, and Jango nodded, grabbing his helmet as he left with the Senator.

Obi-Wan didn't notice them leaving.

"Jealousy won't help either of you," Mace said as they walked through the halls that were shot through by tree branches. Jango didn't know where he was going, and he honestly didn't give a kriff.

In answer to the Senator's commentary, Jango signed a particular vulgar swear.

Mace didn't speak sign, but he got the message.

Good for him.

The Jetii let out a long sigh, "You aren't going to learn a completely diverse culture from your own overnight, Jango."

"I thought you said our cultures were similar," Jango bit out.

Obi-Wan had said that.

"Will you expect me to understand all the hierarchies and nuances of your people?" Mace asked casually.

Jango opened his mouth then closed it.

"Obi-Wan has lost who he is, you must give him space to do so. I believe he will waver between our cultures—"

"Again, he chose us. He is a Mandalorian."

"Stop that," the Senator chastised before continuing. "Until he finds who being of both our peoples. He will be unique, extraordinary, but you know as well as I do that being different isn't easy, no matter how gifted or talented one is."

Jango let out a long breath.

"There is a saying in the creches," Mace said.

Jango glared at him, "To be clear, if you keep talking to me in metaphors or ancient proverbs, I'm going don't punch you in the face."

Best to be upfront.

Mace smirked as if to say, 'I would like to see you try.'

Jango's hand twitched.

Mace went on, "Creche Masters don't judge."

Jango glared at him, "Saying what, that he's a better father than I am?"

"We are religious people."

"Weapons are my religion," Jango said, unimpressed.

Mace quirked a brow, "And Jedi's weapons are sentient. To use them properly, you must have a spiritual bond with them."

Jango sighed, deciding this was going to be a looooong road.

"But what I mean is that creche Masters act as a counterweight to our traditions of attachment. They are their youngling's confidant and safe harbour. We also have policies to keep creche Masters especially well guarded. They are not permitted to go onto missions or to wander far from the Temple."

"You keep them prisoner?" Jango asked.

"Life will teach death. The life of a Jedi is often one of abrupt change. A creche Master is stability, they are home. As too often happens in a culture like ours that teaches restraint and in which attachments are looked at with a critical gaze, many suppress their feelings rather than deal with what is troubling them.

"Ideally, they should go to their Masters, and there aren't many Jedi in the Order who wouldn't help if asked. We also have healers for trauma. But when worst come to worse—"

"Creche masters don't judge," Jango finished, sort of seeing how that was different from a parent.

But only somewhat.

"I won't say everyone remembers that, or that many return to their creche Masters, but there's no stigma against it. Creche Masters are also under no obligation to share what they learn with others, including a Padawan's Master or the High Council. There is no shame in turning to a creche Master."

"Unconditional love," Jango said, watching a breeze shake the leaves outside the windows.

"Yes. It is my understanding that a parent's duty transcends that one responsibility. Creche Masters are guardians, but a Master-Jedi bond is closer to your definition of a parent. A Master is both guardian and mentor, a creche Master is simply cherished."

Jango rubbed his eyes, "But a Master Jedi is less and more than a parent. You people divide up your relations unnecessarily."

"But it is necessary. A Force sensitive life is in danger of those who would use them. We have a commercial value through no act of our own. Then there are the gifts themselves, our philosophies, our connections to others, our connection to all things. The Force is both a living thing, and our faith, our religion defines who we become and how we treat others. Those are complex relationships. Although we are not perfect, our culture exists as it does to support our people through this life and onto whatever path they choose."

Mace put a hand on Jango's shoulder, stopping them beneath a canopy of trees, a light missed cooling the air.

"Obi-Wan needs those supports, he has lost his way, but never forget, that path he chose was you and your people. He needs the Order, but he wants to be a Mandalorian."

"You think he doesn't want to be a Jedi Knight?"

Mace smiled sadly, "I think he already is. Regaining control will mark his independence, freedom from his emotions that the Force will take advantage of, like water carving its way to the ocean. But he had control once, and he was not content with the man he became."

Stupid time travel. It wasn't that Jango didn't believe it, it was merely that he wished Obi'ika wasn't suffering as much as he clearly was.

"What he is; is a Mandalorian." Jango choked, "And he tried to kill himself."

Which until this moment, wasn't something he had been able to admit to himself. He had blamed the magic, but he couldn't blame it all on that.

The Jetii met his gaze with dark eyes, "He cut himself into pieces trying to be perfect for both our peoples. We must show he doesn't need to break to be who he is in either of his homes."

Jango nodded, pulling away. He was grateful when the Jetii made no attempt to follow him.


Obi-Wan had made himself forget how wonderful Master Ali-Alann was even though he knew part of that was the type of Force training they underwent.

It was a bit like being trained to trick minds or influence animals.

A creche Master had the technique to drop a full grown Master into a sleeping trance. They carried lightsabers, or at least, most did, but what they specialized in was emotions and shielding. Obi-Wan had learned shielding from Master Ali-Alann, who had been the only person in the Order he had allowed to touch him when he was brought to the Order.

Obi-Wan dimly remembered some worrying about him, about his fear and anger. But that had dissipated, because of Master Ali-Alann and his health improving, and likely being around people who didn't hate him on site.

Obi-Wan remembered trying to bring Anakin to Ali-Alann, but Anakin had lost his temper repeatedly. Anytime he mentioned the creche Masters to his apprentice, Anakin had two explosive reactions, I am not a baby and How could you replace Qui-Gon?

None of Obi-Wan's attempts to explain were ever listened to, and the few times he invited Ali-Alann over, he had walked out.

The disrespect, admittedly, had upset Obi-Wan. He became increasingly more embarrassed by Anakin's behaviour. Which had only survived to backfire, driving a wedge between them.

Anakin wanted Obi-Wan to be as expressive as someone like Master Ali-Alann could be when the moment called for it. But Obi-Wan might have been skilled in shielding, controlling his temper, not letting his depression rule him, simply didn't leave him a whole lot of energy to be expressive.

It certainly wasn't something Qui-Gon had ever desired from him.

Obi-Wan had held out hope that when Anakin overcame his youth, he might apply himself to the creches. It required a few years of healing training and intensive training, but training that Anakin would have likely excelled at.

Hells, Anakin had had the power to calm and shield every clan in the Temple from harm.

But that's not what happened.

Ali-Alann ruffled his hair, "Do you want to talk about it, young one?"

Obi-Wan shook off the thoughts, finding it easy to ground himself here, surrounded by growing things and other Jedi than on either Coruscant or Mandalore.

It helped that this place was both familiar, yet foreign, so none of his faulty memories could confuse him.

Ali-Alann hummed, "Finish your food, Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan winced, "I'm not really hungry."

Ali-Alann smiled and though he said nothing, his silence was an end to any argument.

Obi-Wan supposed there were reasons people tended not to return to their creche Master's for help.

They could be worse than the healers in their fussing.

Which is why a knock came and Quin came in, Obi-Wan was relieved for the distraction.

"Obi-Wan!" Quin said brightly, his braids pulled back by a ribbon, his black clothes were casual, and Obi-Wan suspected strongly that something had happened to his personal wardrobe.

Obi-Wan could count on one hand the number of times Quin had worn Jedi robes, even if they were black and deepest brown like Anakin had prefered.

Obi-Wan smiled, "Hi, Quin."

Quin grinned, "Hi, Master Ali-Alann."

Obi-Wan's smiled until Quin hopped onto the bed beside them.

Moving back from him, Obi-Wan said in a rush, "Quin, wait! My shields-"

Master Ali-Alann rested a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, "I've got you, youngling. No harm will come to you here."

Obi-Wan relaxed despite himself as Quinlan wrapped an around him and leaned into his side, "My shielding is getting better too, Obi-Wan. You're not the only one who has grown."

Obi-Wan poked Quin's bicep, which even beneath the robes gave some definition. "Really? Hadn't noticed."

Quin laughed again, then kissed his cheek, "Whatever, Sith Slayer."

Obi-Wan stiffened, "Jango and Jaster killed him."

Quin snorted, "You took off his hand and that's after blowing the infamous Tor Vizsla sky high, oh, and that was all after winning a war, bringing peace to Mandalore, being kidnapped by a terrorist organization, and being sold into slavery."

"You didn't tell anyone, right?" Obi-Wan asked.

Quin laughed, "No, your badassness is a well guarded secret. You miraculously coming back from the dead as a Mandalorian, not so much so."

Obi-Wan shook his head, not excited for the Temple's drama, but he still teased Quin back. "You know, I thought you would be the first to visit. Mace has already asked me to be his Padawan."

Quin froze, "What did you say?"

Obi-Wan hugged Quin's braid, "That I'll have to start growing out a Padawan braid. I'm taking bets on how quickly my buir complains about the practicallessness of them."

Quin hugged him back, Master Ali-Alann remained quiet, present, but content to give them space.

"Welcome home, Obi-Wan," Quin said with earnest.

Obi-Wan inclined his head, but diverted the conversation. "Really though, I don't think I sensed you when I woke up yesterday."

"Master Tholme and I were bringing some of the Zygerrian captives back to their rightful homes."

Obi-Wan was about to reply when another knock came to the door.

He reached out with the Force to sense who it was and momentarily forgot how to breathe.

Sensing the change, Ali-Alann pulled the hospital tray away and rose to greet whoever was at the door.

The door swished open and Master Ali-Alann stepped aside to reveal a woman with dark tumbling hair. She wore Jedi robes and though she was clearly Force sensitive, she didn't precisely feel like a Jedi.

Obi-Wan thought he recognized her, but he couldn't place her.

He was, at any rate, more distracted by the bundle of blankets in her arms.

She offered him a kind smile, her voice was as soothing as Master Ali-Alann's as she said, "Mandalorian Obi-Wan, I heard you were here and I wanted to see if you were alright and to thank you."

"Thank me for what?" he asked after swallowing hard.

"I tripped in your path, you helped me not to get trampled and directed me to the Jedi's ships. You saved our lives."

Obi-Wan took in a shaky breath, remembering the woman who had helped to her feet before Satine had been killed.

He hadn't seen the light of her or the one she held in her arms.

"It was no problem. I think you know my name, Obi-Wan Kenobi, this is my friend, Quinlan Vos, and our creche Master, Master Ali-Alann."

She curtsied to them, "It is an honour to meet you." She stepped forward holding her arms down a bit so they could see the newborn. "I'm Aashmi, and this is my son, Anakin Skywalker."

Obi-Wan felt his world tip off its axis.

He had been so angry with the Force, for all that it had done to him, for all that he had shown him. Obi-Wan hadn't regretted time travelling, but he hadn't exactly wanted to survive the consequences of the things he had changed or seen.

Not until now.

"Could I hold him please?" he asked, not taking his eyes off the tiny one surrounded by plush blankets.

Aashmi's smile was soft, "Of course, without you, he wouldn't have made it into this world."

Quin pulled back so Obi-Wan could hold his arms out.

Obi-Wan fought not to cry. He had been doing enough crying lately and he wasn't sure if he could explain it to Aashmi.

She lowered the babe into his arms as if the baby were the most precious being in the galaxy.

And he was.

Burning as brightly as he ever had before, Anakin shone like a star with a heart of kyber.

"Hello there, Anakin," Obi-Wan said softly to the infant who looked up at him with curious blue eyes.

He was so very small. Obi-Wan couldn't get over how delicate his features were, nor how quiet he was, searching Obi-Wan's face as if he could see all of him.

And maybe he could as a moment later, Obi-Wan since an inexperienced light up a long dormant bound.

It shouldn't have surprised him, Qui-Gon had retained a ribbon of their old Padawan-Master bond where it had never existed in this time before, why shouldn't his connection to his own Padawan be any different?

It was an effort to break eye contact with the inquisitive newborn's gaze, to look up at Aashmi who was smiling down at both of them, none of the trauma she had endured in her life seemed to sway her current happiness and contentment.

"Are you both staying with the Jedi?" he asked because he had to know. Had to know if he would have the opportunity to glimpse Anakin grow up happy or if this would be another goodbye.

It was Ali-Alann who answered though, "Aashmi Skywalker and her son have been accepted into the Order. Ashmi has actually begun to undergo training to become a creche Master."

"That's wonderful," Obi-Wan managed to get out, his gaze pulled back down to the newborn.

Obi-Wan didn't so much tug on their bond as lay his happiness along it.

You're going to be free, Ani. You're never going to have to suffer the way you did before. You don't need to be afraid anymore.

Palpatine had been defeated before the Sith had ever learned of Anakin's existence.

Obi-Wan continued speaking through the bond, though he understood that Anakin was far too little to understand, You're mother is going to be cherished by our people. You'll never have to wonder what became of her, because you'll know and no one will ever separate you. You're both free and you can be absolutely whoever you wish to be.

Anakin's mother was as wonderful as her son had ever said she was, because she didn't rush Obi-Wan, allowing him to hold onto this proof of hope that they could all be better than who they might have been.

Obi-Wan startled when he felt Anakin communicate back over the bond. The newborn's eyes widened and Anakin made a sound that wasn't quite a laugh but a cooing that conveyed his startled happiness.

Another tug on the bond from babe resulted in that same cooing sound that even had Quin enraptured.

Obi-Wan tugged gentle back on that golden cord, I'm here, Ani. I'm here with you.

Anakin screeched his coo, beating his little fists out of the nest of blankets in his excitement. Obi-Wan offered him a finger which Ani immediately caught with a strength that seemed impossible for one so small.

For a space of time, the Darkness had no foothold in Obi-Wan, surrounded as he was by light and love, and the newly born hope that he believed he had abandoned long ago.


AN: Yes, she did show up in chapter 15, and yes, I cried as I wrote this. I also swear to the Force that when I finished this chapter, the song that started playing on my radio was "Little Wonders."

Thoughts, seahorses, or feedback on the chapter and/or requests moving forward, pretty please?

Chapter Text

AN: Hello ner adate, so I got lots of great feedback, only most of you asked for the character beats I have planned. Cody is ten years from being born and Plagueis does have a plot but he is not jumping out soon when Sidious was cut down so quickly.

KEYNOTE: Koska Reeves in the Mandalorian hanging out Bo-Katan in the Mandalorian TV show.

Chapter 21 - Home

Obi-Wan woke in a cacoon of warmth between Master Ali-Alann and Quin. On the single bed, it was a tight fit. Ali-Alann had his back to the door, his large frame draped half over Quin and almost entirely over Obi-Wan. Quin was drooling into Obi-Wan's hair and Obi-Wan had literally no desire to move.

Creche Masters were the best. Even in sleep, Master Ali-Alann's shields were filtering the Force around Obi-Wan and Quin.

After battling the Force, his shieldings, his instincts… this was paradise.

Ali-Alann woke before Quin did.

Obi-Wan leaned into the Master and Ali-Alann brushed the Force against his mind in greeting.

Obi-Wan let the bond between them strengthen, it was typically discouraged, but he was drowning, and though he had been friends with Mace, there weren't now, and it would take time to depend on him.

But here Ali-Alann was, offering him a life line, and the entire reason point of coming home was to get help.

And he was too tired to fight people out anymore.

Ali-Alann projected safety and calm and opened them up to the Force, the light shining through them.

Obi-Wan closed his eyes, soaking it up like he had been too long without sunlight and he needed to chase the cold from his bones.

Quin woke then, his personal shields, then let go, and Obi-Wan found himself caught in a feedback loop that echoed all of their relief and happiness of being reunited after so long.

Another twenty minutes passed when Ali-Alann finally moved to get up, "Come, younglings, you both need to get food."

Obi-Wan groaned and Quin smothered a laugh in his shoulder.

"Why is everyone so determined that I eat more?"

"Because we can feel your ribs," Quin said.

"And it is Master Che's orders," Ali-Alann said, laying a kiss on Obi-Wan's temple. "Behave, Obi-Wan. I'll be in the creches if you need me."

Obi-Wan nodded, blushing slightly when he needed Quin's hand to steady him as they sat up.

Ali-Alann gave him a wary look.

"I'm fine," Obi-Wan lied. "Thank you, Master Ali-Alann."

Master Ali-Alann tucked his hands in his sleeves, "May the Force be with you both."

"And with you," Obi-Wan and Quin said in unison.

Ali-Alann bowed to them and they ducked their heads in return. The Master smiled at them before leaving.

Quin turned to Obi-Wan with shit eating grin, "Ready to eat until you feel like puking?"

Obi-Wan smiled back, "I hate you."

Quin nodded solemnly and said in Yoda's voice, "Hate, the truth often is."

Obi-Wan pushed him off the bed.

oOo

Obi-Wan made a real effort to tune out everyone in the mess hall, to make eye contact with anyone as he collected his tray and Quin piled on extra sweets.

And he was almost successful, almost.

"Hey, Kenobi!" Siri Tachi called.

Obi-Wan sighed, and turned with his tray in hand, to see his old friends.

"You don't have to do this," Quin whispered to him.

"Rather get it over with," Obi-Wan answered under his breath as they approached his agemates.

He was pleasantly surprised to see Bruck Chun sitting next to Siri, along with Garen Muln, and Reeft. Galen and Bruck wore the Explorer Corps insignia, while Reeft had the Agricorps and Bant was Medicorps, which meant Siri was the only Padawan. And yet here they were all sitting together.

Obi-Wan found it interesting that the Medicorps that had always worked with the Knights who were training to be healers, but healers were in the Knights Crops. Now that all of the branches were closer together, Healers, while still holding the ranks of Knights and Masters, were overseen by the Medicorps.

He and Quin sat down across from them. As they were all facing the main entrance of the mess hall, he suspected strongly that they had been waiting for him.

"Hello," Obi-Wan greeted them. Like Satine, despite have known his crechemates, loved them even, he found that he didn't have much attachment to them.

He was just glad Bruck had stayed with the Order and that they had all found their way that didn't necessitate being a Jedi Knight.

"So," Quin said as the silence continued. "This is fun."

"Shut up, Vos," Siri said. "Kenobi, don't you have anything to say for yourself?"

Obi-Wan quirked a brow, "My dear, you haven't asked a question."

Quin snorted and Galen cracked a grin.

"You deserted the Order and faked your death," Siri spat.

"That still isn't a question," Obi-Wan said.

Siri's face went a bit red, "Why did you betray the Order?"

"I didn't betray the Order, Siri, I left it," he said.

"But you didn't tell anyone, do you realize all the people you hurt?" Bant pressed, her compassion the reason for her anger toward him.

Obi-Wan sighed, "I wasn't of age to leave without the Order's consent and my goal was to keep the Mandalorians and the Jedi apart."

"Did your Mama and Daddy take you back?" Bruck sneered. "Bet they were rich and you just wanted a life of luxury."

Obi-Wan laughed.

Quin caught his hand under the table, and his voice held heat, "You don't have to answer that."

Obi-Wan shook his head, "No, they should know. They are right, I did hurt people, and they should know what I was fighting for."

Siri crossed her arms, "Alright, Kenobi, let's hear about your parents."

"To be clear, my birth family is different from the people who adopted me," Obi-Wan began.

Siri's eyebrows shot up, "You mean you left the Order to live with complete strangers? You weren't there for a day!"

Obi-Wan smiled, "I knew a bit more about Mandalore's culture and politics than you do, Siri. My ba'buir, my grandfather is public figure."

"You trusted a politician?" Galen asked with a frown.

Obi-Wan shook his head, "No, Jaster Mereel is a clan leader and the Mand'alor. The Mand'alor is more than an elected position, it is earned, like being tapped for the High Council."

"It's more organic than that, isn't it?" Quin asked, showing that he had been researching since last they met.

"Not always," Obi-Wan said. "It has a mixed history, but for Jaster, yeah, it was earned fairly."

"And you just happened to find the leader of a major faction in a backwards village?" Siri asked.

"It was an agricultural town," Obi-Wan said, "Stewjon provides one-third of the Mandalore system's crops."

"Whatever, your parents were farmers," Siri snapped, avoiding eye contact with Reeft who was in the AgriCorps.

"My birth parents were retired warriors who didn't expect or want me. Apparently I was born early and small, so they named No-One from Nowhere. When they figured out I was Force sensitive, my birth mother tried to drown

me in a river and she murdered the boy who called the Jedi to come save me. I was told this by the boy's father who murdered my parents in revenge for killing their son. I honestly think he might have killed me too, but Death Watch, the terrorist orginzation my clan has been at war with bombed my village. My adoptive family found me in the wreckage."

Quin was squeezing his hand tight, and Obi-Wan held onto him, realizing that he was only going into detail for Quin's sake.

His agemates were properly horrified and it was Bruck who asked, "Then why would you stay with those people?"

Obi-Wan let out a long breath, "Because the Force… It protected me. I shouldn't have survived, I probably shouldn't have stayed, but the Force showed me what would happen if I hadn't gone… I don't regret doing what I did, though I regret the hurt I caused."

Quin cleared his throat, "He's basically been on an extended mission. He was the one who saved Master Tahl on Melida/Daan."

Bant blinked fast, "Really?"

Obi-Wan nodded but before he could answer, someone yelled his name, "Obi-Wan!"

He turned in time to be tackled by three little girls.

Micah followed them at a more leisurely pace, messing up his hair in greeting as all three of the Reeves girls began talking rapidly, completely dominating the conversation.

Asara, the youngest, sat herself in Quin's lap, Koska in Obi-Wan's, and Kalli, the oldest, sat between Micah and Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan was able to eat as the girls began talking a stream that when one took breath another began talking.

When all three girls finally took a collective breath, Obi-Wan made introductions while signing.

"This is your family?" Siri asked, her voice confused.

"My clan, my aliit, yes," Obi-Wan concurred.

"But Koska is an initiate and her father has been working in the Temple…"

"Mandalorians and Jetiises are not mutually exclusive," Kalli lectured, her sisters nodding in agreement.

Koska curled herself more securely in Obi-Wan's arms. And Micah left them without saying goodbye, only to come back with a second serving for Obi-Wan.

He glared at his friend.

Micah grinned and then shared a high five with Quin.

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes.

Koska pulled on his hand, her darker skin, dramatically different from the paleness of his, that was paler thanks to his current state of poor health.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

He nodded, "Of course, I am."

Koska asked, signing as she spoke, "Then why aren't you eating?"

Quin and Micah started laughing, Micah's particular laugh louder and ear catching so that everyone in the room turned to look at them.

Obi-Wan turned red, and let himself be successfully guilted into eating. Quin upheld the conversation and attempted signing where he could with the Reeve girls correcting him as they went on.

Micah's smile was real all the way through, he was always happy when someone made the effort to try and learn sign in a sincere way.

That Quin was so easily being accepted by his clan made Obi-Wan feel… feel like all the impossible things he had wanted for many years were possible.


Obi-Wan went looking for Jango. Quin had to go meet with Master Tholme and Micah had to take the girls to their classes.

Jango didn't answer his comm, and when he couldn't think of where else he would be, he went to the hanger bay to the Salvation I.

Obi-Wan's shoulders sank as he realized that Jango wasn't here. He should have known of course, the Force wasn't ringing with his presence. But Obi-Wan was having a hard time trusting himself, so he hoped he might have been wrong.

He sat in the kitchen at the table, closing his eyes to try and reach for the Force. It was there, just as it always was, greeting him like a tropical breeze. When he tried to translate it, he let himself sink into the feeling of fear and sorrow, and frustrated anger that his home rang with.

He blinked back tears.

He had saved his peoples, but at a large cost to the people he loved. He pulled his holo-comm out, flipping to the familiar frequency.

His ba'buir picked up moments later. The little holo image observed him closely before saying, -Bu'ad.

Obi-Wan swallowed hard before saying in Mando'a, "Ba'buir, I'm sorry."

Jaster sighed, -Obi'ika…

His Ba'buir sighed again, -We are here for you. We always have been. The only apology I want from you, is to let us help you.

Obi-Wan blinked back tears, "I-"

He cut off his own words, because all he wanted to do was continue to apologize.

Jaster didn't rush him.

Swallowing hard, Obi-Wan asked, "Did Jango speak to you?"

-Yes.

The word was clipped and though he couldn't tell if it was because he was mad at Obi-Wan or the things Jango had said, but either way, that was a tone he used when a line of conversation was over.

Which didn't allow much room for Obi-Wan to broach any of the topics he wanted to.

"How is Maul?" Obi-Wan asked finally.

-He was raised on Mustafar by a droid and occasionally by a psychopathic dar'jetii. Considering that, he is settling, relatively well.

Obi-Wan nodded, "I'm glad he has you. How is Mandalore?"

-Fine.

Obi-Wan winced. If the question was; is his Ba'buir upset?

The answer was; yes.

"How upset is Buir with me?"

Jaster raised a brow, -You haven't spoken with him?

"Not today," Obi-Wan said. "I can't find him."

Jaster looked off in a different direction as someone called for his attention. He looked back to Obi-Wan -Then he will find you. I love you, Bu'ad. We will speak later.

"I love you too…" Obi-Wan said as the call clicked off.

Leaving him alone in the ship that had been his home for years. Obi-Wan tried to do as Jaster had suggested.

Tried to wait.

He made tea, tried to meditate, but eventually, exhaustion ate away his patience.

He knew he could have commed Quin, or gone to find Master Ali-Alann, or even, Mace.

Master Che probably would have preferred he returned to the medical wing.

Instead, Obi-Wan retreated to his own room on the Salvation. He grabbed his blanket and pillow and settled himself on Jango's side of the cabin.

He underestimated how exhausted he was because no sooner had he shut his eyes, then he fell into oblivion.


Jango had to admit the Jetii Temple was a beautiful place. The pool rooms were beautiful, and Jango swam the morning away. Swimming laps allowed him to use every muscle and continue without injuring himself or sweating through his blacks.

No, when he finally exited the pools, where everyone had left him alone, he was clean and had worked out enough of his hostility to have an open discussion with his ad'ika.

Hopefully.

Jango cursed when he saw he had missed a call from both Obi'ika and Jaster.

Obi-Wan didn't pick up.

He called Jaster as he walked back to his ship to recollect the weapons he hadn't been willing to leave unchecked at the poolside.

-Jan'ika, have you spoken with Obi'ika?

"Today, no, not yet."

-I was a bit short with him.

"Why?" Jango asked, though he could think of a few reasons why that might be.

-Because his first words were an apology and I didn't have the heart to lecture him about his abundant stupidity.

"He's a Jetii Padawan now, I'm sure such lectures will be forthcoming in abundance."

-He was looking for you, Jan'ika.I think he's worried you will leave him.

Jango bit his tongue, because he was worried Obi-Wan would be the one to leave him.

-Jango, do not let your own worries get in front of the security Obi'ika needs. He is looking for the worst.

Jango let out a harsh sigh, "I will keep it in mind."

-Good, now go find him.

Jaster hung up and Jango knew he stomped his way back onto his ship.

He froze when he saw that Obi-Wan's favourite mug was on the drying rack,

"Obi-Wan?" Jango called out, checking the ship and found his son in their cabin fast asleep.

Jango sank to his knees, brushing back Obi-Wan's hair from his forehead. Obi-Wan seemed to release some tension but didn't wake.

Jango felt his own anxieties go.

Mace Windu had said that Obi-Wan had chosen him over the Jedi. He hadn't believed that, but here his ad'ika was.

Even within the Jetii Temple, they were home.


AN: In writing this, I missed the clones so I wrote Daughter of No One which is all clone fluff and time travel fun.

Please comment or review if you can, please?

Chapter Text

Daughter of No One: If you are missing the clones as much as I am, please give it a chance?

Chapter 22 - In the Deep

Obi-Wan woke up warm, the Force flowing around him and Jango filled with love and hesitant relief, that gave way partially as he let himself be encouraged by his buir's presence.

It wasn't that Jango wouldn't still be upset with him, or that things would be easier moving forward, but Jango was here.

He was here.

The Force coaxed him to listen.

Obi-Wan had never been so naturally gifted with the Force. Sure, he had high potential, but he had to work for it.

But he had worked so many years to block it, to let it flow free again… it was a mercy.

And kind of addictive.

The bit of worry that inspired in him, he set it aside, allowing himself to just glory and all that he had regained.

Jango woke, his sigh of relief made Obi-Wan smile even as he patted Obi-Wan's shoulder and they rose to begin their morning routine, as if everything were the same.

As if they were in hyperspace not in the Jetii Temple that had a perfectly fine mess hall.

But Obi-Wan didn't complain as he prepared a mug of tea for Jango and a cup of tea for himself. Jango prepped some rations— again, the Temple food was better, but then Obi-Wan wasn't really hungry anyway so whatever he ate was bound to taste like chalk in his mouth anyway.

All he wanted was the tea and for his buir to lose the pinching between his eyes.

They were just sitting down when Obi-Wan's comm lit up.

He answered it with just the sound, and Mace's voice greeted, —Good morning, Padawan Kenobi.

"Good morning, Master Windu."

-I wondered if you would like to join me for a morning spar?

"Yes," Obi-Wan said without thinking, he looked up to catch his buir's gaze who was quite clearly watching him.

-I will meet you in the dojo in a half an hour then.

As was typical of Mace, he hung up without a proper farewell.

Obi-Wan pocketed the comm and waited for his buir's judgment.

As the silence stretched, Jango realized that's what Obi-Wan was waiting for.

Jango hummed, "I guess you were right about them. Morning practice, they aren't so different from our people after all."

Our people.

Obi-Wan smiled, happiness filling him.


Obi-Wan was well and truly caught in puberty. But his body was different than it was from before.

He had always been small as a child, which thanks to learning about his dar'buir, he knew that was likely due to malnutrition. At eleven years old he probably could have passed well enough as an eight or nine year old. By thirteen he had stretched out, though he had still short.

In this lifetime, however, he had pushed his body to its extreme that had left its mark.

War wasn't pleasant, no matter how good he was at it, he knew it wasn't —strictly speaking— healthy.

Insomnia wasn't healthy either, nor was his loss of appetite.

Otherwise, when it came to physical abilities?

It amused him, for all the testosterone one might think Mandalorians should, Obi-Wan did so much physical training that it seemed he had partially delayed his physical growth.

Meaning?

He wasn't that awkward teen Padawan he had been yesterday year, no, Obi-Wan had control over his muscles, his stamina, and his mental fortitude.

Jango been able to kill Jedi, because he trained his muscles to move without thought, change direction in a millisecond.

Jango could keep up with the Jedi, because he trained his body to move and had trained his mind to turn every moment into a calculation of lethal intent.

And in the next moment, recalculate.

Recalculate again, and again, at every moment.

All the while, trusting his subconscious mind to direct his muscles.

It was scary figuring that out. Obi-Wan had worked so long with clones that he knew Jango was intelligent and an incredible fighter, but Jango, unlike the clones, was a killer.

Both a warrior and a Master assassin, but not a soldier, at least not in the truest sense of the word.

What was Obi-Wan?

A general.

He knew politics as well as he knew a battlefield, he knew how to direct people and he knew how to protect as well as he knew how to kill.

Obi-Wan had been good before, but a few years from now, Obi-Wan could have stepped to Dooku without concern.

So very much about him had changed. Obi-Wan would classify his own fighting style much like that of a feral half-starved tooka. His own motions were erratic, fast, and spiteful.

If he pulled a weapon on someone, he wasn't doing it for show but survival. Even Jango was more playful than Obi-Wan.

The chaos in Obi-Wan's soul made him want to cause pain, to defeat, to rend, and tear anything in reach. If he played with someone, it was because they had done something worthy of a slow death.

While these were basic accolades for a Mandalorian and excusable for a general; these were not good qualities for a Jedi Padawan.

And now that he had donned robes and was practicing his katas again, he felt like he had betrayed everything he had once held so dear.

Just like Siri and Bant had said.

It felt strange to have a lightsaber in his hand.

Stranger still, it was Mace's saber. The purple kyber crystal wasn't damaged like the last saber he had held, which he learned had been put to rest in his false funeral. No, this crystal was, curious, about Obi-Wan.

It was neither repulsed nor attracted to his own Force signature, but it also wasn't unwelcoming. This saber would cede to being wielded by him so long as he remained respectful.

Obi-Wan tried to think of who he wanted to be as he went through the long unused katas of Form I. Even with the memories he had lost, it was impossible for him to forget this form.

Even though he had never precisely mastered it like Kit Fisto had, this was the first form any youngling learned.

And all forms began from the one.

The trouble was, Obi-Wan didn't know who wanted to be.

He didn't want to become twisted by the Dark Side.

He didn't want to become the man who failed Anakin.

He didn't want to be the last Jedi in a galaxy torn asunder.

But those were all negatives, things he did not want, but what he wanted was harder to put into words.

He wanted to be a Jedi, but that was a what not a who.

He missed the simplicity of war.

"And here I thought the Jetiiese would teach you how to focus," Jango called, from where he stood with Mace and Qui-Gon.

Not many people had come to visit Obi-Wan, namely Tahl and Feemor. He thought that might be in an attempt to not overwhelm him.

Obi-Wan spun out in a proper Ataru leap. He used the Force not just for lift but also for speed.

The amethyst blade cast the shock on his buir's face into dramatic contrast as it hummed an inch from his throat.

Obi-Wan grinned, immensely satisfied to have surprised Jango.

His buir typically knew his limits better than he did. As much as Obi-Wan contributed to the war effort, Jango was the one who kept him going. Kept him from burning himself out.

But now that Obi-Wan wasn't using a truly monumental effort to keep his gifts at bay, things were different.

With the Force, he was limitless.


Jango had trained his ad'ika to the best of his ability, and Obi'ika was a more dedicated student than any buir could possibly conceive of.

But over the last four, nearly five years, he had never once been afraid of his ad.

Afraid for him, almost every moment of every day, but never of him.

Between the three of them Jaster, Jango, and Obi-Wan, Jango knew himself to be the most dangerous. Granted, Jaster was the better leader and Obi'ika the better general.

But for a second, Jango doubted that verdict.

Jango had had no doubts that Obi-Wan would grow up to be a better warrior than himself. But that was years from now and Jango would also bet on himself over any Jetii.

But right now, in the present moment, looking into the joyous lust for chaos in Obi'ika's grey-blue eyes, he realized he didn't know his ad's potential at all.

He also saw what the Jetiiese Masters had been fussing over when they learned Obi-Wan had cut himself off from the Force.

He had been willing and ready to dismiss the threat of the 'Dark Side' but that was before he saw the cruel curl of Obi'ika's lips as he stared up at Jango was smug satisfaction of catching Jango off guard.

Obi'ika, despite knowing his value on the battlefield, remained annoyingly humble about his skills and importance to the clan.

There was nothing humble or playful in Obi'ika's mood now.

He glimpsed this at times, had seen it in Obi'ika's depressive moments or when he was beyond tired, a tightly bridled fury that wanted nothing more than a distraction.

Jango had to be careful when Obi-Wan got like this, he would supervise his ad as he went through katas and trained in a fashion that made Jango feel exhausted just witnessing. When Obi-wan waned a bit, Jango would find the moment he could drag his son to bed with the hopes he could sleep.

He rarely pressed the issue, despite how little sleep he was getting because pent up rage wasn't good for anyone.

Now he had wondered if that rage was him or was that the darkness driving him?

What felt like a decade of his life passed as Obi-Wan extinguished the lightsaber. Grinning up at him, his son coming back into focus.

Jango was out of his depth.

So out of his depth.

Obi-Wan was dangerous, and his control?

He didn't have it.

Obi-Wan frowned at him, "Buir?"

Jango shook himself, "You're fast, ad'ika."

Obi-Wan's smile came back, "I have the Force, and I had you as a trainer."

Jango forced himself to smirk, ruffling Obi-Wan's hair, and said, "That you did."

But what he was thinking was that he didn't teach him restraint or how to hold back or how not to give into blood lust.

Those had never been problems his ad'ika true signs of, but with a foreign power energizing him, influencing his thoughts, his actions…

Karking hells the Jedi had been right.

Jango hadn't understood the Jetiiese, not their fears for their young nor the reasoning behind their ways.

But seeing his own son's personality be altered before his own eyes, seeing how much potential he had yet to use…

Yeah, he was beginning to.


Mace could see the gears shifting in Jango's gaze as he finally got a clue as to what a Force sensitive could do.

But even Mace was trying to reconcile what he knew of Obi-Wan and what he had become. He was no longer a youngling, this Obi-Wan had been caught at war and trained by two of the galaxy's greatest warriors.

Jedi Knights weren't trained for that, they were trained to protect, not kill.

And yet, that was what Obi-Wan had undergone.

Mace approached them before Jango gave away the epiphany he was having. "Ready to practice, Padawan?"

Obi-Wan turned to him, the Force, both dark and light swirling around him.

Oddly enough, the shatter points around him were fewer.

Last time Jango had seen him at the Temple on Coruscant, Obi-Wan had had few personal shatter points, but many that were tied to things outside of him. By many, he meant uncountable, and now that he knew Obi-Wan what had changed, he understood those.

And those shatter points that dictated the galaxy's destiny had mostly receded, fading as the realities of them ran their course.

The Jedi Order changing and Mandalore being brought to peace, that had doubtless had changed the future, and now they were well and truly out of Obi-Wan's hands.

The burdens of the galaxy no longer rested on Obi-Wan. However, the boy had pushed himself to the edge and the shatter points he saw now were fractured, already points buckling.

Which was not surprising, not given everything Obi-Wan had been through.

"I didn't think we were doing anything more than katas today," Obi-Wan said, offering Mace back his lightsaber.

Mace smiled and shook his head, "You said that Qui-Gon was your Master, I would like to see how much of his teaching transcended."

Qui-Gon asked, "Would you do me the honour of a spar, Padawan Kenobi?"

Obi-Wan's smile was bittersweet. He bowed to Qui-Gon, "It would be my honour, Master."

The two walked to the centre of the field, Mace stood shoulder to shoulder with Jango. When the two sabers engaged, Mace said under his breath, "Are you alright?"

"How much can the Dark side change him?" the Mandalorian asked quietly but furtively, never taking his eyes off Obi-Wan.

"If he loses control," Mace answered honestly, "all of him could be overwhelmed. The Force gives us strength, but the Dark seeks chaos. Both Dark and Light act through a Jedi and it is a Jedi's responsibility to find balance within ourselves and to not allow ourselves to be ruled by emotions."

Jango glanced at him, "So you train to have no emotions?"

"No, we train not to act on them. For you, perhaps rage and the need for victory are motivators, help you focus, but the Force would magnify everything you feel because you would be connecting yourself to a galaxy of anger and pain. Driven more rage than you could ever incur in a single lifetime, what would you do; what could you do?"

Jango looked at him with hard eyes, then looked back at Obi-Wan who was circling with Qui-Gon, neither choosing to be the first to act.

"I would burn the galaxy to ash," Jango said, tone light as if he spoke of something completely mundane.

"Then you understand," Mace said.

"No," Jango said. "I don't, but I endeavour to."

The first clash of sabers drew Mace's attention back to the duel. Qui-Gon had broken and attacked first, in a show Ataru that was as it always had been.

Impressive.

Qui-Gon was never able to match his Master Dooku, but Dooku's form was specific to other lightsaber wielders. Which meant that Qui-Gon had spent his entire apprenticeship duelling against a Master who had been trained by Yoda.

Which meant Qui-Gon wasn't the Order's best, but he was most certainly one of their best.

Even Mace found Qui-Gon challenging, having been trained by Yoda as well, Qui-Gon's size changed the Ataru from aggressive to what amounted to a one man battalion. Not that Yoda wasn't perfectly capable of taking on a battalion.

In contrast, Obi-Wan was on the defensive, his motions erratic. He kept pace Qui-Gon's blows, but he was constantly backing up.

It was perhaps what one might expect from a Jedi initiate who had been away from the Order for so many years. Mace couldn't see any of Qui-Gon's style or teachings in Obi-Wan's erratic motions.

Mace thought this, until Qui-Gon slipped, the angle of Obi-Wan's blade forcing him off balance.

The fight changed in the blink of an eye, and Mace felt his astonishment grow as Obi-Wan settled into using a saber —an unweighted blade— again.

Mace, being who he was, should have recognized the form, but in his own defence, most practitioners —especially young practitioners— of Juyo did not retreat.

And when Qui-Gon stumbled again, Obi-Wan went on the offensive.

Qui-Gon quit flipping as he tried to defend against the blurring speed Obi-Wan delivered his blows.

In hindsight, Mace had seen Obi-Wan wield a blade against a Sith Lord and be victorious, but Obi-Wan had been using everything he had and the Force had been with him.

But in a spar, where the stakes were not life and death, Mace could identify the form.

Which begged the question, how did a Jedi Initiate raised by Mandalorians master Form VII?

And it couldn't have been from the future because Obi-Wan said he had been a Master of Soresu, not Juyo. Mace also knew with absolute certainty that Qui-Gon would never have trained any of his apprentices in that form.

Qui-Gon's blade went wide and in one graceful motion, Obi-Wan knocked the emerald blade away, using the butt of Mace's saber to the side of Qui-Gon's palm, as he foot swept the much taller man.

The end result?

Was an amethyst blade pointed at Qui-Gon's throat. The man was out of breath while Obi-Wan looked surprised the spar was over already.

Obi-Wan disengaged his saber and held his hand down to Qui-Gon. The Master offered him a strained smile and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.

"Well done, Padawan Kenobi. I see Mace's line will continue to attract some of our finest warriors," Qui-Gon said, easily shrugging away any outwards side fo distress.

Obi-Wan looked a little chagrined, "I didn't think my skills with a lightsaber would return so readily."

Qui-Gon raised a brow, summoning his own saber back to his hand, "Is that so?"

Mace frowned, "I would say you were close to mastering Juyo."

Obi-Wan stilled, "No— I, no. I never studied that form. I studied its weaknesses, but I never… I learned Soresu to fight against Juyo."

"Well, in this life, you have been studying it, ner ad'ika," Jango said, crossing his arms with a smug smile.

"What?" Obi-Wan asked the man flatly.

Jango shrugged, "I noticed when we first took you in that you preferred to practice katas rather than strength training and learning from spars. The closest thing I could find to Jaster's style of fighting were holos of Juyo. I modified them to fit hand to hand fighting and taught you them."

"You taught me Juyo?" Obi-Wan asked, sounding outraged.

The Force stirred around him darkly.

Jango frowned at him, "Yes. I don't see why you're upset, ner ad. It's a Jetii fighting form and you are a Jedi."

"Dar'jetii!" Obi-Wan exploded. "It's dar'jetii, Buir! The forms are more than mere fighting techniques! They are moving meditations! And you had me training, meditating within the Dark Side!"

Mace winced, wondering how hard Obi-Wan had had to fight not to use the Force in a form that's entire purpose was surrendering to the Force. It wasn't taught at the Temple because it encouraged one to open themselves up to the Dark Side of the Force. To meditate on that, while keeping the Force out…

That would be like purposely antagonizing the Force.

Mace wasn't even sure how the Force would respond to such— teasing, especially from a Jedi the Force had chosen to embrace and take back in time of its own volition.

There would be a price for that, and Mace, regrettably, believed that he would learn in detail the price Obi-Wan had indeed paid.


"How could I have known that?" Jango asked, his mouth dry. "If I had known your background, I might have known to be-"

"You didn't even research it, did you!?" Obi-Wan yelled. "No, of course not, because all Jetiiese are fools and there couldn't possibly be meaning behind our practises!"

"Watch. Your. Tone," Jango growled.

Obi-Wan had never raised his voice at him before, much less yelled. Obi-Wan sassed, he argued, but he never yelled. Merely raising his voice was an indication of extreme agitation.

Obi-Wan growled right back at him, "You have no concept of how dangerous the Force is."

Mace stepped in, "Enough, Padawan."

Obi-Wan was brought up short and though his blue-grey eyes still glimmered with fury, he was back in control.

"Obi-Wan, you know my own form is Form VII," Mace said voice hard. "Knowing Juyo will make learning Vaapad far easier for you. Vaapad, for all that it is aggressive, is a defensive form."

Obi-Wan let out a harsh breath, "Fine."

Jango felt his heart crack, what had he done?

Worry swamped him that he had made an error that had made his ad'ika's sitution infinitely worse than it already was.


Mace exchanged a worried look with Qui-Gon, before he said, "Let's go through the traditional Juyo katas with a lightsaber and then I walk you through those for Vaapad."

Obi-Wan nodded and Qui-Gon passed his lightsaber to Mace as walked back into the centre of the dojo.

Mace felt Jango's distress in the Force. He looked back at the man who had unclipped his helmet from his belt so he could pull it back on, a shining Mandalorian in the halls of the Jedi.

As unreadable as the most stoic Jedi.

Obi-Wan, however, did not look back, nor did he apologize to Jango.

Mace worried, then, worried that Obi-Wan was far more entrenched in the Dark Side of the Force than originally imagined.

This path would indeed be a long one.


AN: Thoughts, baby octopi riding jellyfish (yes, that's a real thing), or feedback pretty please?

Chapter Text

KEYnote: Typically, I write Obi-Wan as a character who takes on way more blame than he deserves and as an excellent Jedi.

Who this Obi-Wan has become is a motherkriffing badass, but at the price of losing himself. The rest of this story will very much be him finding himself with the help of friends, family and lots of hard work.

As well as the changes in the Order that began five years ago.

Obi-Wan lashing out at people, Jango, isn't pretty, but in a way it's a healthy sign because it shows he trusts Jango won't abandon him for ill behaviour.

Moral of this story: Healing is not easier than the war.


Thank you, Sectumus Prince!

Chapter 23 - Tarzan Moment

Mace took Obi-Wan through the Vaapad katas with the very real intention of going until Obi-Wan dropped.

Only, Obi-Wan showed no sign of flagging at any point. As the hours passed and the sweat on Mace's back began to chill, he finally called it.

It was only through years of training to master his breathing and physical exhaustion that he was able to hide how much effort he had put into those katas. Neither Juyo nor Vaapad were low energy forms. Yet Obi-Wan had gone through the katas as though they were practicing Soresu.

"Well done," Mace said, looking over Obi-Wan. His shatterpoints were still fractured, the Force clinging to cracks, caught between shattering the boy or holding him together. "The Force is with you, but it flows through you like an old freighter through turbulence."

Obi-Wan nodded his agreement of the assessment.

Mace remembered how Obi-Wan had clung to him once, after he had been forced into a vision from an old kyber crystal. He had been asking for help then and had trusted Mace in ways most did not.

Obi-Wan hadn't feared him then, because in his view they had been friends.

Cast five years into the past, with the power of a Master Jedi and the memories of a grown man trapped in an eleven year old's body, he still wasn't afraid of Mace.

But he was afraid of himself.

Obi-Wan had been losing control then, drowning, asking for help and accepting of what was offered. But for the Order, Mandalore, and the very galaxy, he had let go of help and hope for himself. Obi-Wan was self-aware enough to know that the cost he would have to pay for that would be steep.

So he didn't take Mace's remark as rebuke, as Depa might have at this age, just as a fact.

Mace watched him a moment longer before saying, "Go clean up, I'll meet you here before sunrise tomorrow morning."

Obi-Wan bowed to him deeply, then Qui-Gon. "Thank you, Masters."

He left without acknowledging Jango.

Mace waited until he was out of hearing before turning to the Mandalorian. "Is he always like that?"

"Yes," Jango said in a clipped tone. "If you let him, he will work until his feet bleed and he passes out from dehydration. Getting him to train is the easy part. Getting him to stop and take care of his basic needs is the difficult part."

Qui-Gon shook his head. "I hope that is not my doing."

Mace used the sleeve of his robe to wipe the sweat from his brow.

"Your doing how?" Jango asked, his visor hiding the glare both Jedi Masters could sense the presence of.

Mace sighed. "He was Qui-Gon's Padawan first."

"So what? Obi'ika hardly remembers his old life anymore, he said so."

Mace shook his head. "He's young, Jango, but a person is more than their memories and physical bodies. The Padawan-Master bond still exists between them, and much of who Obi-Wan has become is learnt through experience and trauma from that old life. Even if his mind does not remember, his heart does. He remembers the pain, like a man who is deathly afraid of water because he drowned in a past life."

"You sound so certain," Jango remarked. "But you said this is the first time this has ever happened to one of your people."

Mace exchanged a look with Qui-Gon.

"What?" Jango snapped at them.

"He remembers more than he lets on, or more than he himself believes," Mace said.

"How do you know that?"

Mace gestured to the other Master. "Because in his spar, he showed that he remembered Qui-Gon's fighting style and weaknesses."

"Maybe he's just that much better of a fighter," Jango offered.

"He's good," Qui-Gon admitted. "But it was more than just speed and intelligence, he knew me. He knew my limits and the way I thought. And the fact remains that a bond I have not fostered exists between us. You say he doesn't remember, but he loves me, Jango. Despite my barely knowing him, he cares deeply for me. Whatever emotions he had, they have stayed with him in large enough parts to make a difference in who he is."

"And he's going through puberty," Mace added. "It is not strange for his emotions to be heightened. The main issue here is that he was at war for so long. In the Order's history, many Jedi fell during our wars. It wasn't just that the Sith were better killers, it was that the longer the Jedi fought them, the more of us died or fell to the Dark Side. Our numbers were added to theirs."

Jango was quiet for a long time.

"Obi-Wan was skilled in war before he came to Stewjon," he said at last. "He had fought on Mandalore before, as he had fought on Melida/Daan before. He didn't fall when he was a Jedi."

"But he carries the trauma from that life and it has compounded with this one," Mace said. "It worries me more that he has forgotten much of it. It means he may not remember the reasons behind his trauma."

Jango shook his head. "Why is this never easy?"

"If it were easy, everyone would be a Jedi," Qui-Gon said.

"Oh, so you are all born this unlucky?"

Mace shrugged. "Technically, there are very few species in the galaxy that don't have any Force-sensitivity. If you put the work in, you yourself could become a Jedi. The Order just actively invites those who don't have the choice to ignore it."

Jango shook his head again. "Thanks, but no thanks. I have enough problems without having to worry about my own control."

Mace nodded. "Despite everything, Jango Fett, you have raised him well. Obi-Wan is strong enough to survive this."

Jango merely shook his head once more and left.

Qui-Gon sighed once he was gone. "I am not looking forward to telling Dooku I lost to a Padawan."

Mace shook his head. "No more than I'm looking forward to telling Depa that my new Padawan wore me out with my own Form."

A feminine laugh echoed through the dojo and they turned to see Depa striding into the room, her dark eyes sparkling. "I'm glad to hear our lineage is going to outshine Dooku's."

Qui-Gon pinched the bridge of his nose and Mace sighed.

No, Depa was never going to let them live this down.


Obi-Wan barely had time to register who was grabbing his hand and tugging him before he was out an open window.

"Quin," Obi-Wan complained, but the sea mist hit his face and filled his lungs.

And he was able to breathe.

After hours of kata work, after realizing that he had been practicing Juyo for years and had been too stupid to realize the danger he was in. Years of ignoring the Force, of dismissing it, dismissing its anger with him. Practising Juyo was like courting the Force and then he fought it off with everything he was, constantly.

Constantly, as if he thought he were a moon pulling an ocean tide.

Only fools thought they could play with the Force like that and come out on top.

He very much hadn't come out on top.

But right here, right now, he wasn't fighting.

Not the Force, not Quin, nor gravity.

He missed this. Jetpacks were not the same, being able to soar through the skies was not the same as being freed from the laws of gravity.

Quin let go of his hand, but Obi-Wan followed him anyway, from branch to branch, suspended over an ocean veiled in a white mist.

Despite how irritated the Force must be with him, the Force did not deny him as it carried him on weightless wings. They followed the line of the shore for some time, beyond the reaches of the city, before Quin led them deeper into the forest.

Quin was not quite two years older than Obi-Wan, fifteen and seventeen, sixteen or eighteen, was not a monumental difference. Obi-Wan wasn't sure of his birthdate, and if Quin knew his own he had never shared. But those two years made a physical difference. Quin had always been taller, bulkier, and simply bigger than Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan was still in limbo as far as reaching his own height. However, this didn't mean he couldn't keep up.

Quin turned to flash a roguish grin at him, and the chase was on.

Quinlan Vos, beneath the thick tropical canopies of Kashyyyk, running across branches and swinging from vines, was very much in his element.

But Obi-Wan had been trained by some of the greatest bounty hunters in the galaxy.

He let Quin get ahead, and through the Force he could feel the older Padawan's satisfaction.

Obi-Wan grinned to himself as Quin didn't get suspicious that he never quite got out of his sightlines.

Obi-Wan was patient and waited for Quin to slow and glance back.

He waited for Quin to continue before shooting up into the higher branches, then moved double time.

When Quin next looked back, Obi-Wan wasn't there. A thread of concern flowed through the Force. Obi-Wan returned amusement across their bond, a bond that in another life would have been frowned upon. Now, though, he was pretty sure the creche Masters were encouraging multiple bonds.

Their community was so much larger than he had imagined it ever could be. The bonds the Masters were now encouraging were because in the Mid Rim there were fewer protections and fewer illusions from the wider galaxy of the extent of the Jedi powers really were.

Their bonds made them stronger, made it easier to find and care for one another. There were forces in the galaxy that had better tech than they did, but even the Sith had their limitations in interfering with Force bonds.

Quin sped up after sensing Obi-Wan's joviality.

Obi-Wan dropped to a lower branch silently, and a moment later Quin came running at him.

Only he was looking around.

He turned his gaze forward in time to register that Obi-Wan was in front of him, his brown eyes going wide, but not in time to avoid the collision.

Obi-Wan only had a brief moment to brace for impact as Quin barreled into him, the momentum carrying them down.

Quin and Obi-Wan both attempted to use the Force to catch themselves, but they ended up unable to find their feet tangled up as close together as they were. So they bounced. The impacts buffered, but it wasn't a soft landing, even with Quin spinning so he hit first, catching Obi-Wan.

Quin gave Obi-Wan a look that was a mix of consternation and exasperation.

Obi-Wan rolled off him, laughing so hard he couldn't breathe.

Quin cursed under his breath as he tried to sit up. Obi-Wan had tears trailing down his cheeks. Quin huffed, sitting beside him and pulling debris out of his braids.

"I blame you for this."

Obi-Wan sat up, rubbing a scratch on his cheek. Still a bit breathless, he said, "Jango is going to kill me for not wearing my armour."

Quin touched his cheek gently. "Not going to lie, the idea of you in armour is kind of sexy."

Obi-Wan grinned, leaning into him. Quin met him partway without any more prompting.

Quin's lips were full, and he kissed like he knew exactly what he was doing.

Which wasn't surprising, Quin had always been promiscuous. He had always struggled with attachment. When Master Tholme had taken Quin away from his homeworld— given the trauma his Aunt had put him through, that had been the right choice— he had also cut Quin off from his people, a people with Force sensitivity and bonds that had been severed cruelly.

Quin's Aunt had tried to push him to the Dark Side, and that wild, broken emptiness Quin was left with had been filled with flings.

The Quinlan Vos of yesterday year had closed himself off from any true bond.

He had always kept Obi-Wan at a distance. No matter how tightly entangled they became with each other, Quin had always kept him at arm's length. Always at arm's length.

But not this Quin.

His Quin.

Obi-Wan's memories of physical intimacy were more than a little muddled, and this body remembered nothing. He was content to follow Quin's lead as if he were teaching him to dance to an old favourite song. Held closely, any missteps of teenage inelegance were lost to the novelty of learning someone new. Every touch elicited a tingling sensation that seemed to reward him for staying present in the moment.

The Force was singing between them, and with his shields as raw as they were, there was very little Obi-Wan wasn't feeding into the bond.

How much he had missed Quin as a friend. How much he wanted whatever this was between them to grow.

Obi-Wan didn't want to be another notch on the Kiffar's belt. He didn't want this to be causal, for them to be flippant or crass. He didn't want for them to turn to each other only when they were raw and desperate, too afraid of being vulnerable to ask to be held that they could only bring themselves to ask for sex.

He didn't want that future, a future where he had been alone well before every stars went out.

Before he was the last and there was no one left to pretend to be strong for anymore.

Quin broke the kiss and Obi-Wan immediately apologised, "I'm sorry—"

Quin shushed with another kiss, then rested his forehead against Obi-Wan—a gesture that made him hum with contentment, his inner Mandalorian pleased at the show of affection.

Quin huffed a laugh. "Force, Obi-Wan, you're incredible, you know that?"

Obi-Wan sighed, letting his eyes shut, and made no motion to pull away. Quin's legs were crossed and Obi-Wan's legs were over Quin's thighs. It was undignified and probably would have been mortifying if anyone in his clan saw him like this. But there was no one else to see them.

It was just them.

"Not so bad yourself, Vos," Obi-Wan teased.

Quin weaved his hand into Obi-Wan's shaggy hair.

Obi-Wan shivered.

"You're afraid."

Obi-Wan sighed, pulling back so he could look into Quin's dark eyes. "My shields—"

"I don't give a kriff about your shields, Kenobi. I can feel your emotions as if they were my own, but I can't read your mind. I won't invade your mind uninvited, and the bond, no matter how strong it grows, is not an invitation. What I want to know is why you're afraid?"

Obi-Wan looked down at him, feeling suddenly awkward.

"I—" He swallowed. "I can't be with you like this if you plan to pull away, if you don't want to be committed."

Quin's brows shot up, "Obi-Wan… I know you saved the galaxy and everything, maybe a few times over, but we're still young. Don't you think it's a little, I don't know, presumptive to be asking about commitment?"

"I've lived our future once. You pulled away from me, we lost our friendship. Despite being friendly, we weren't there for each other. Maybe it's because of that attachment that I fear this, but it's not that I couldn't let you go, that I would be enraged to share you, or even that I couldn't survive your death, but I can't trade the bond we have to chase something more unless you are certain you won't cut and run because I get too close."

Quin shook his head. "My concern was that I might be too old for you. I don't want you to feel pressured in any way. But I hadn't realized you had visions about your love life."

Obi-Wan took a deep breath and thought maybe he shouldn't be sitting in Quin's lap for this conversation, but kriff it. If this was to be the last time, he would hold on to every last moment they had.

"You're not," he said, voice tight.

"I'm not what?"

"You're not older than me, Quin. And even if it was only those two years, I think I can safely say that the five years of war can speak for itself when it comes to my maturity level."

Quin blinked. "You… You time travelled?"

"Yes, sort of, but I went from my thirties to being eleven and I began to forget things almost immediately. The Force didn't stop giving me visions of the future either, so things are all mixed up."

"How did you do it?"

"I was meditating."

"Of course you were," Quin deadpanned. "But I mean how did you survive that, without telling anyone?"

Obi-Wan shrugged. "I was only back at the Temple for two months before—"

"You left us."

Obi-Wan winced. "Yes. And it wasn't something I could share with my clan or something they would have understood."

Quin stared up at him, his arms holding Obi-Wan in place. "Does Jango understand now?"

"No. Yes… I don't know, but he doesn't… He was teaching me Juyo, Quin."

His dark brows rose. "Juyo? Form VII. You've been learning Form VII? How? More importantly, why? I thought you cut yourself off from the Force."

"I did. Jango found some old holos —which, if he wasn't one of the galaxy's best bounty hunters, he shouldn't have been able to find— and modified it for hand-to-hand. I can't believe I didn't recognize it."

"That's not surprising if you were ignoring your Force abilities. Juyo is the only form that doesn't build on all the ones before it. Form VI takes a bit from every Form before it, but Juyo is radically different. It's only semi-recognisable to Atura."

Obi-Wan dropped his forehead back down to Quin's.

"My buir cut out all the flips and jumps."

"Obi-Wan, Juyo is all flips and jumps."

He sighed, closing his eyes. "He turned them into pivots and redirections."

Quin huffed a laugh before hugging him tight, "I don't care."

"About what?"

Quin leaned back and Obi-Wan looked into his face, searching for things unspoken.

"About the time travel, or the possible age difference, or what the Quinlan Vos you knew or who you might have been with in your past or some possible future; I don't care." Quin took a breath before continuing, "Because I lost you once, Obi-Wan. I lost you and I was never happier than when I had proof that you were alive, when I could take your hand and know, always know, that even if a galaxy stood between us, I would never not be able to find you again, that I would always sense your light in the Force.

"I can't promise you the future, I can't promise I'll always be there when you need me to be, but I can promise you that I will never take you for granted and that I could never be unfeeling toward you."

Obi-Wan hugged him, "I love you."

Quin hugged him back, "I love you too."

And for a time Obi-Wan was able to bask in the peace in his own heart.


AN: Writer's block continues and I am so sick of writing on my phone. So shorter chapters as I muscle forward. I'm thankful for any thoughts on the chapter, characters, or pidgions, pretty please?

Chapter Text

Hello Darkness: The story of 'What if?' of a Obi-Wan time travel back to the Apprentice Books but stays at the Temple and the Jedi Order falling from within.

Please check it out?

Thank you, Sectumus Prince!

Chapter 24 - The Breaking Point

Obi-Wan didn't come back to the ship that night.

Jango wasn't surprised by this, but still, he waited.

Unable to sleep, he was grateful when Jaster commed him.

-How is Obi'ika?

Jango sighed. "Pissed with me. I messed up. And this Dark Side thing… Buir, I saw it in him today. He's so much faster now. You were right about him holding back, he moved quicker than I could, to my surprise… It wasn't ner ad'ika looking at me, it was someone or something that craved chaos and destruction. If he fails becoming a Jedi, we may lose him."

-What the kark do you mean by 'lose him'? Jaster demanded, practically spitting the words.

"The Dark Side, the Force, it's strong enough to overwhelm. Mace Windu, Obi-Wan's Jedi Master—"

-The Senator of Coruscant?

"Yes, him. He said the Force magnifies a Jetii's emotions. When they use the Dark Side, they are channelling the hurt and pain that any living being in the galaxy has ever felt."

Jaster was quiet for a long moment before he said, -How much danger is he in?

"A lot. Mace does sound hopeful, but, Buir…" He sighed. "I don't know what I'm doing."

-Obi'ika was angry with you?

"Yes. I was teaching him an adapted vision of Jetii katas and he said I didn't care enough to do my research."

-He yelled at you?

"Yes," Jango said.

-Good.

"What?" Jango snapped. "Buir, he's never raised his voice at me before."

-Exactly. He was afraid of you, ner ad'ika. Afraid of all of us. He was afraid of doing anything that would cause us to expel him or turn against him. If he's yelling at you, then he trusts you not to leave.

"He was pissed."

-Good. Jango, he's been holding back for years, keeping his silence. He is neither meek nor a coward. It hasn't been easy for him to keep his secrets, to cut himself off from his people and powers, and he did it because he believed he was saving our peoples and the galaxy. He has every reason to be angry, and I welcome his anger over his apathy. Be careful the Jedi don't encourage him to shut back down.

Jango took a moment to process that. Finally he said, "Mace is a good man, I met his first ad'ika, his first Padawan. I liked her, and like her Jetii Master she has a sense of power about her. Yet her warmth for Obi-Wan, even when she hasn't seemed to know him personally, was palpable. They aren't, at least in their own home, as cold as we were led to believe."

-You are going to be there for years.

Jango tensed, then he let his shoulders fall. "Mace offered to join our clan."

-We aren't ready for that, by which I mean, Mandalore isn't ready for it.

No, the reports of late were… complicated. That Obi-Wan was rumoured to be the one to kill Tor Vizsla, remotely, while being sold into slavery had been redeeming even for a Jetii.

Micah had joined Jaster for a press meeting to give his account of the events, as well as coming out as Tor Vizsla's son and revealing the crimes his father had committed against him because of his born disability.

Chakraborty had been the one to save and adopt Micah, but Jango had been the one who taught them both expanded sign, as well as the rest of the clan. Most Mandalorians spoke the sign needed for battle, but expanded sign was less commonly used or understood.

Like Obi-Wan, Jango had always enjoyed learning languages.

"Maul?" Jango asked. It was still a bit odd that his new vod was his ad'ika's age.

-If Obi'ika was afraid we would expel him, Ma'ika is waiting for us to beat him. He also snarls and growls at nearly everyone and everything.

Jango sighed. "Snarling and growling isn't exactly uncommon from a Mandalorian."

That got a laugh out of Jaster.

-Fair enough. He's picking up Mando'a well enough, at least. Not that he speaks it often—he hardly speaks at all, actually, but he listens. He is beyond intelligent. Perhaps not the same cleverness as Obi'ika, but there is a mind behind the muscle.

"Has he asked to speak with Obi-Wan?"

-No. He wants nothing to do with the Jetiiese. Even if it was you and I who ended him, Maul accounts Sidious's death to Obi-Wan. He was raised on the idea that the Jetii would kill a Sith without question.

"Is it safe to have them in the same space?"

-I'm not going to risk it anytime soon. Especially when Obi'ika is battling with his own control. Maul is ner ad'ika, not Obi-Wan's responsibility.

Jango sighed. "You should call him soon."

-I will. Try to rest, Jan'ika. Settle in. Windu will be welcome among us when the time comes, but for now, Obi-Wan needs time to heal. He has more than earned a respite from politics and galactic conflicts.

"Good night, Buir."

Jaster turned his farewell into a command, -Sleep, ner ad.

Jango let out a long, slow curse as he was left alone in his grounded ship.

He wasn't sure how long passed before there was a knock on the ship's hatch.

Jango stood, knowing it wasn't Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan wouldn't have knocked.

Indeed, it was Mace Windu.

"Obi-Wan isn't here," Jango snapped at him.

Mace's expression remained unmoved as he said, "I came here to see you."

"What about?"

"To offer you a place to stay on Kashyyyk. The healers will not clear Obi-Wan to leave the Temple for months, but more truthfully, it will take years until he is cleared for active duty. As Obi-Wan's parent, you are entitled to a suite within the Temple or a home in the city."

Jango blinked. That… hadn't been what he was expecting.

"Where is Obi-Wan staying?" he asked.

"I would assume with you."

Jango felt something in his chest relax. This Jetii truly wanted what was best for Obi-Wan, not what he personally might have wanted.

"Traditionally," Jango began, "where would he have stayed?"

"Padawans share rooms with their Masters. However, you are an anchor for him, and strictly speaking, sharing rooms is not necessary."

Jango sighed. "No, we will move in with you. He struggles the most at night. That is, if that's what he wants."

"He will be expecting a room in a shared suit." When Jango said nothing, Mace offered, "Obi-Wan and Quinlan have always been inseparable. And now that they are older, it would seem they have grown closer."

Jango snorted. "That much, at least, I caught on to when I first saw them together."

Mace smiled. "It is perhaps the only advantage of a Padawan's teenage years we have, that we can identify who they fall in love with, perhaps even before they do."

"Was Depa this… difficult?"

Mace threw his head back and laughed. "If you had had a daughter you would not need to ask that." His expression sobered. "Obi-Wan has more traumas that Depa didn't have at his age, but typically females have crises of identity compounded with complex emotions. Advanced maturity comes at some cost."

Jango rolled his eyes. "Jaster says that human males don't reach maturity until their thirties."

Mace dipped his head. "I'm not entirely sure I disagree."

A Jetii Master and a Mando getting along. Who could have predicted it?

Jango turned to go collect his bag from the bedroom.

"Would you like help carrying your belongings?" Mace asked when he returned.

"This is it, unless you will let me bring bombs into your home," Jango joked.

Mace answered him seriously, "Bombs are not the most dangerous things in this Temple, I assure you."

The Jetii made it sound like they already had an arsenal in the Temple—hell, they probably did. Life in the Mid Rim wasn't as cushiony as being in the Core.

Jango slung his bag over his shoulder and went to his weapons trunk, unhooking it from the wall. Mace took one handle without being asked, and together they left The Salvation I deeper into the Temple.

The Senator led the way to one of the higher floors. The Temple of Kashyyyk was an architectural marvel of stone and forest. The room that they finally entered consisted of an open space, with a sofa and cushions for seats around a low table, all of which could be moved to use the full room. There was also a kitchenette that was about the size of the one on his ship with a bit more counter space.

Jango noted that the spice rack was thankfully full, and on the tea shelf there was caf. Obi-Wan would like the clay pot that they couldn't have kept safely on their ship, a bit of turbulence would have spelled the thing's funeral compactor.

By far, the best thing about the room was the view of the ocean. A horizon of mist and surf. As they walked further into the room, Jango realized there was even a balcony.

Obi-Wan would love this.

Mace led Jango into a room that was basic in the extreme. There was a chair with a footrest and a small side table near the windows, a full bed, a closet, and a small refresher. Despite the minimalism, the view made the room.

He and Mace set the trunk of weaponry at the foot of the bed.

"Thank you," the Senator said.

Jango removed his helmet. "For what?"

"For working with us instead of making this harder."

Jango sighed. "It isn't for your sake."

"I know," Mace said. "But not all fathers are good ones, Mandalorian or otherwise."

Jango thought of Micah's father and couldn't argue.

"Do you need anything? Or would you like anything?"

"No," Jango lied.

Mace nodded. "My room is the one down from yours, Obi-Wan's is across from yours. Good night."

"Good night," Jango echoed, waiting until Mace left to take a seat. He should unpack, but his worry had finally caught up with him. He found himself stripping his armour off, as well as his blacks, and slipping into bed. For a time, he would let sleep distract him from his worries.

He had nightmares, because of course he did, but he woke more rested than he had felt since Obi-Wan had been taken from him months ago.


"Good morning, Obi-Wan," Master Tholme greeted as Obi-Wan and Quin emerged into the main room.

Obi-Wan flushed a bit.

He and Quin hadn't done anything last night but cuddle, but they had come in late, and he was pretty sure Tholme knew that.

Knew exactly what two teens might have been up to in the forest.

Not that anything had happened.

Quin chuckled, twining their hands together and pulling him to the table. Master Tholme served them tea as they took their seats.

"Thank you, Master," Obi-Wan said, head slightly bowed.

"You were well missed, young Obi-Wan, it is good to have you back."

Before Obi-Wan could answer, there was a knock on the door and Obi-Wan noted the three extra tea cups.

Ambush.

Master Tholme gave him a look that confirmed Obi-Wan's paranoia before the Master called, "Come in."

The door swished open and the first person through the entrance was blonde, blue-eyed, and bleeding relief into the Force.

Obi-Wan stood and Feemor nearly ran to him. The Seeker didn't touch Obi-Wan but his gaze took in every inch of him.

"I'm sorry, Master Feemor," Obi-Wan said.

Feemor shook his head. "No, Obi-Wan… I'm the one who left."

"It was the Force's will," Obi-Wan said. "I didn't reach out to you because I thought you were the one who died in the bombing. When I found out otherwise, it was years later and I was fighting in a civil war."

Feemor was quiet for a long time before he said, "I am grateful that you are here today."

Obi-Wan crossed the space between them and hugged Feemor. "I'm sorry."

Feemor hugged him back, laying his cheek on the top of Obi-Wan's head. "Welcome home, youngling."

Obi-Wan let Feemor be the one to decide when to end the hug, and they had hardly parted before he was pulled into another hug.

Obi-Wan simultaneously relaxed and felt his heart twist with guilt.

"I'm so sorry, Master Tahl."

She shushed him, pulling back and cupping his face in her hand. She wore gold-framed glasses that made her gold-green eyes seem brighter. "Thank you for saving me, Obi-Wan. And though I think you took on far too much, you cannot be faulted for doing everything and anything you could have for our sakes."

He blinked back tears, and Tahl pulled him down to sit back at the table.

The last person who entered the room mussed his hair.

He glared up at Depa, who smirked at him. "Welcome home, little brother."

Obi-Wan blinked.

He knew Depa had been Mace's Padawan.

His only Padawan.

But Obi-Wan hadn't considered that they shared a Master now. He hadn't known Feemor in his old life and Xanatos had been pretty set on murdering him.

It would be a strange honour to have a sister to share a mentor with.

As everyone settled around the table to enjoy morning tea, Obi-Wan remained tense until he realized the conversation that flowed around the table never focused back on either interrogation or accusation.

Quin bumped his knee against Obi-Wan's and they shared a glance.

Obi-Wan was safe, and unlike the other Padawans, the adults didn't blame him for his choices.

"So, Obi-Wan," Depa said, "I heard you wore Mace out yesterday."

Tholme raised his brows. "Practising what?"

Obi-Wan blinked, then shrugged. "He was just showing me Vaapad."

He hadn't thought he had 'worn' Mace out.

"You've been away from us for years and you're already learning a new form?" Tahl asked, pushing her glasses up her nose.

Obi-Wan grimaced. "Jango has been teaching me modified Juyo for years."

"Modified for what?" Feemor asked.

"Hand-to-hand. Apparently, it was the closest he could find to my grandfather's style of fighting."

"That's somewhat terrifying," Tahl remarked.

"According to Mace," Depa said, smirking, "you've practically mastered Juyo."

Obi-Wan shrugged. "I don't know about that, but I beat Qui-Gon."

Tahl and Feemor gaped at him.

"You won against Master Qui-Gon?" Feemor asked.

Obi-Wan half-smiled. "Yes."

Tahl laughed.

Quin punched Obi-Wan's shoulder. "Why didn't you tell me that yesterday?"

"I've done more impressive things, Quin," Obi-Wan said. "I killed Montross with a beskar brace when I first joined Jaster's clan."

Feemor choked on a sip of tea. "You did what?"

"Wasn't he on our kill-on-sight list?" Tahl asked.

"He was," Master Tholme said, giving Obi-Wan an assessing look.

Obi-Wan glanced at the wall and was relieved at the time. "I need to go meet with Master Windu."

The only reason Quin had gotten up in time was because Obi-Wan had the forethought to set multiple alarms.

Depa rose. "Slight change of plans, Padawan. Mace sent me to get you situated in your own room before training."

Obi-Wan had a sneaking suspicion he wasn't going to be training today. Jango tended to regulate how much Obi-Wan trained since he had a habit of overdoing it. If that was punishment for losing his temper…

Perhaps it was fair, but he wouldn't apologise.

True, Chakraborty, Micah, and the Reeve girls had been welcomed by the Jedi and their clan had accepted the Jedi in return. But a part of Obi-Wan could never let go of the Clone Wars. Jango had allowed millions of people, his kin, to be bred and raised for slaughter with the sole purpose of avenging his people.

Obi-Wan didn't blame the Jango he knew now for what that version of him had done, no more than he blamed Bruck Chun or infant Anakin for their past deeds. But Obi-Wan would not accept that he had been irrational in distrusting Jango, or the Order for that matter.

The Jedi and Mandalorians were ancient enemies. Basically, for as long the Jedi and Sith had been enemies, so too had both the Jedi and the Sith been warring with the Mandalorians. Yet in all those thousands of years they had crossed paths, they knew kriff-all about each other.

It was a level of ignorance that was criminal and just plain stupid.

Between the Jedi and the Mandalorians, only the Sith had come out on top, because they had done their karking research. Meanwhile, the Jedi and the Mandalorians had driven each other onto the brink of extinction.

So, no, Obi-Wan wouldn't forgive that, or ask to be forgiven for being upset about it. He wouldn't have had to do everything he had if his peoples hadn't let their prejudices and arrogance of their own superiority destroy each other.

"Obi-Wan?" Depa asked.

Quin caught and squeezed his hand as Obi-Wan rose to his feet. He squeezed back before following Depa out, waving goodbye to Tahl, Feemor, and Master Tholme.

Depa offered him a smile as they walked through the hall. "You know, a lot of people find Mace frightening."

"I don't," he said at once.

She raised a brow. "Oh?"

Obi-Wan flushed. What was he supposed to say? 'Yeah, we all served on the Council together, so I know you, too.'

"Are you all right?" Depa asked after an awkward moment, her smile falling.

He swallowed. "Yeah, I'm fine."

Obi-Wan was grateful when they reached his new room assignment and learned that it wasn't that far from Quin and Tholme's room. As they walked through the door, he was awed by the view of the ocean, then immediately he was validated when he saw those who were awaiting him.

Jango, Mace, and Qui-Gon were sitting around a table.

There were reasons Obi-Wan didn't want to come back to the Jedi, reasons he had kept secret. He didn't want to discuss his past.

Buir watched him with dark eyes.

Obi-Wan let out a long breath.

He was a teenager, not a child.

He crossed the space and took the seat next to his buir. "Good morning, Buir, Masters."

He felt Jango's breath exit him in a long exhale.

Mace began, "Obi-Wan, we all know this will not be easy, but it is imperative that we discuss your other life."

Typical Mace, pulling no punches.

"It isn't relevant," Obi-Wan insisted. "Nothing that happened is likely or even possible to happen the way it did before."

"It is relevant to who you are today," Mace said.

"I don't remember—"

"You remember well enough, or at least your spirit remembers well enough that a Force bond still exists between you and Qui-Gon."

"So?" Obi-Wan retorted. "He's not my Master now, you are."

Mace quirked a smile. "Yes, but after talking with your father—"

Obi-Wan didn't say anything but Mace still held up a hand to forestall him.

"We will not play this both ways, Obi-Wan. You may have the experience of a Master Jedi and that of a general of galactic warfare, you may even be of age, but you chose this path, as you chose to keep your family bonds. Jango does not have the right to make choices for you but he does have the right to act and share information at his discretion in the interests of your well being and health. That is the right any Master has to their Padawan, whether that Jedi learner is thirteen or thirty. You may not agree that this is in your best interests, but both Jango and I believe that it is."

Obi-Wan could say nothing to that other than he didn't want to.

At his continued silence, Mace laid down his ultimatum, "Either you tell us now, as much as you're able, or you will sit every morning of every day with a mind healer. A mind healer who you won't necessarily be forced to talk to but it will become that healer's decision when you are cleared for active duty."

"Hard-ass," Obi-Wan sniped, remembering all the Council meetings where Mace had played the tough guy because he had the best resting-scowl of any member.

Depa laughed and Obi-Wan caught the glimpse of mirth in Mace's dark eyes. But no one spoke, waiting on Obi-Wan's decision.

On one hand, Obi-Wan knew how talented the Temple's mind healers were and knew that they were quite capable of helping him. He also knew how invasive they would be and that relying on them would be akin to trusting a stranger.

On the other hand, while Obi-Wan still held his conviction that keeping his secrets had been reasonable —no matter what anyone else thought—, they did deserve to know now. These people, his people, who stood by him despite everything. They also weren't being hostile toward each other, going above and beyond what Obi-Wan had believed either cultures would have tolerated or been capable.

It would be insanely hypocritical of Obi-Wan, who had spent fruitless years trying to get Anakin to a mind healer, to turn down their help.

But Obi-Wan decided then and there, that no matter how much this hurt, he was tired of lying and omitting truth to his aliit.

He sighed, but asked, "Where would you like me to start?"

The relief from the four others was palpable and the pride Obi-Wan sensed from Jango alone made the decision worth it.

"I don't expect you to tell us everything or even to be able to," Mace said. "But I would like you to start where your life split. How did your time as an eleven year old go?"

Obi-Wan glanced at Qui-Gon before looking back at Mace, "Nothing truly abnormal until I turned thirteen happened in my personal life. Quin and I grew apart at that age and it wasn't until we were in our twenties did our friendship truly resume. However, though I never went to Stewjon, Master Feemor did. He and the younglings were murdered by Montross, it rejuvinated the tensions between Mandalorians and the Jedi. I also believe it led the Order to be more susceptible to Death Watch's manipulations, seeing as Montross identified as a True Mandalorian, and thus tarnishing Mand'alor Jaster's name, and later, Mand'alor Jango."

"Buir died?" Jango asked.

Obi-Wan nodded, "My heart tells me that Montross likely betrayed him to his death. I know you worked with him for a time but you were also the person who ended up killing Montross."

"You knew this, going to Stewjon?" Depa asked.

Obi-Wan shook his head, "I didn't know, not until I met Montross myself. I never knew that Qui-Gon had an apprentice before Xanatos, and though I heard of Feemor, I never knew that was his name."

"What do you mean?" Mace asked.

"We all heard the story of Montross's crime," Obi-Wan said. "He killed younglings and Feemor. He set the ship on autopilot to the Temple with their remains. The story became more of a legend, The Slaughter of the Seeker. Looking back on it now, I understand why Qui-Gon was so reluctant to take me as a Padawan, because in less than two years, Xanatos betrayed him and Feemor was brutally murdered."

Qui-Gon was quiet for a moment before saying, "Thank you, Obi-Wan, for sparing us that."

Obi-Wan nodded, "I'll admit that part of my reluctance to returning to the Temple after the bombing on Stewjon was because I didn't want to see your pain at losing Feemor."

Qui-Gon shook his head, "I don't understand why I would have been reluctant to choose you as a Padawan. Any Master would have been honoured to teach you."

Obi-Wan shrugged, "I was hot headed, and technically, I was never chosen."

Mace let out a harsh breath, "Yoda interfered."

"That's what you told me before I time travelled," Obi-Wan said.

"What prompted you to time travel?" Qui-Gon asked.

Obi-Wan looked down into his forgotten tea that Depa had poured for him. He took in a breath before looking back up. "I asked for the right to take on my next Padawan learner, and Yoda assigned her to my first apprentice who had just graduated."

Mace looked furious, but it was Depa who asked, "Why?"

"I don't know," Obi-Wan said. "I don't even know why he interfered in my own apprenticeship. I had no idea that other Masters were considering me as early as elven. I'm not sure if it was for Qui-Gon's sake, but if so, it was misled. Qui-Gon and I had a high success rate, we accommodated each other's weaknesses, but it was far from a peaceful or easy pairing."

Qui-Gon blinked, "I find that hard to believe."

"I wasn't the person I am now, Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan said. "And technically you never chose me. I aged out of the initiate program and was sent with you on a mission under false pretenses of being an Agricorps representative."

Jango made a harsh sound, "You were never meant to be a farmer."

"No," Obi-Wan agreed. "The Living Force was never my area of expertise."

"Any other major events in your early apprenticeship?" Mace asked.

Obi-Wan sighed, "A lot happened in those years. I actually left the Order a few months after becoming Qui-Gon's Padawan."

"Why?" Depa asked.

"Melida/Daan," Obi-Wan said. "Qui-Gon had Orders to return to the Temple with Tahl and I couldn't leave the Young to fight on their own without helping them. That was my first exposure to war and I still believe that it was that choice that shaped my future."

"So, you were a child soldier, at some point?" Depa asked.

Obi-Wan shrugged, "I think I was always a Mandalorian, or Qui-Gon and I were chaos magnets."

"Or both," Depa said, lightening the mood.

Obi-Wan inclined his head, "Or both."

"Coming back to the Order must have been difficult," Mace said. "The Order changed dramatically after your trip to Stewjon, I do not believe the same would have happened if you hadn't rocked the ship as you did in this timeline."

Obi-Wan nodded, "No, I wasn't easily accepted. Qui-Gon was relectuntent."

"My apologies, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon said, "For my blindness."

Obi-Wan shrugged, "You are human, and Yoda was pushing you. You've never done well when pushed."

"Yet he has no problem pushing," Depa said.

Obi-Wan smiled until Jango stated, "You're leaving things out. About Mandalore."

Obi-Wan glanced at him, "Ba'buir had died by then and Death Watch had the Senate in its pocket. A group of Jedi were sent by the Senate to reason with or apprehend the True Mandalorians."

"We didn't corporate," Jango stated.

"No, you didn't. Many of the Jedi were killed but our clan was defeated and the True Mandalorian movement with them."

"You weren't there," Jango said.

"No, I wasn't," Obi-Wan agreed.

"Then when did you fight on Mandalore?" Jango asked.

"I was eighteen, Qui-Gon and I were assigned to keep the Kryze family alive. By then, the clan wars had decimated the planet, nothing grew there and nothing could be grown there. The Kryze clan came into power, implemented a complete cease fire. Satine, to honour her father's death, enforced the convictions of what they called 'the New Mandalorians' which were neutrality, and nonviolence."

"Nonviolence?" Jango asked, his voice thick with pure disdain.

Depachuckled, "You say that like you've never considered the concept."

"We don't have a word for it in our language that isn't synonymous with stupid or coward," Jango said.

"It was an uneasy peace," Obi-Wan said. "They were able to end the war, anyone who refused to give up their weapons, were exiled to the Concordia Moon, and for a decade, Mandalore was able to rebuild."

"I'm glad Jaster won the vote," Jango said. "The Kryzes would have destroyed us."

Obi-Wan shook his head, "Buir, Mandalore was already lost. Foundlings were being stolen for soldiers, the land was barren… it was— I don't have the words. I didn't live this, but the Force showed me how it all fell apart again. Thirty years from now, both the Jedi and the Mandalorians would have been chased down into extinction. We destroyed each other and the Sith took everything that remained."

"There was another war with the Sith," Mace rightly assumed.

"In essence, but the Sith orchestrated a galactic civil war within the Republic. Palpatine was the Chancellor and attained war time powers. He was hiding in plain sight. The Jedi who took leadership positions in the Grand Army of the Republic, were executed for treason against the Republic," Obi-Wan said, fighting not to disassociate from this moment.

Somehow, speaking these things aloud was freeing and yet made them more real.

More than just nightmares.

"You lived this?" Depa asked for clarification.

Obi-Wan shook his head, "No. I only lived the first year of that war, however, the Force showed me what would be. Without help, I didn't know how to make the visions stop, so I tried cutting myself off from it."

"Did that work?" Qui-Gon asked.

"No, but I didn't have visions in my waking hours. My nightmares…" Obi-Wan sighed.

"Your night terrors," Jango prompted softly.

"They merged," Obi-Wan continued. "My forgotten memories, the visions, my imagination, and the wars I was fighting in waking hours."

"When did Qui-Gon die?" Mace asked.

Obi-Wan raised a brow.

Mace didn't back down, "You love Qui-Gon, but there is so much sorrow within you, Obi-Wan, and guilt."

Obi-Wan pulled his hands from the table, noticing his hands were shaking and hoping no one else had noticed. "Near the end of my apprenticeship, before my Knighting, Qui-Gon and I faced a Sith apprentice. We got separated in the fight and Qui-Gon was killed. I was able to avenge him, but it was cold comfort."

"You're leaving something out," Jango picked.

Obi-Wan scowled at him, "Thirty-six years, Buir, I'm certain there is a lot I'm leaving out."

"About Qui-Gon, about the Jedi," Jango said. "Mace is right, you do harbour guilt— you doubt yourself. In so many ways, you are one of the most capable people I have ever met. Neither Jaster or I did that to you."

Obi-Wan couldn't look at any of them, his hands fisting on his lap and he told himself he just needed to get through this.

Get it over and done with.

"Qui-Gon found an extremely powerful Force sensitive he wanted to bring into the Order. The Council decided he was too old, he was nine, but more than that, he had severe traumas that the Council didn't believe the Order would be able to help him with. So Qui-Gon petitioned to take him as his next Padawan."

"While you were still my Padawan," Qui-Gon said.

Obi-Wan did look up then and was soothed by the remorse he saw in his old Master's dark blue eyes.

"What happened to the boy?" Mace asked.

Obi-Wan didn't look away from Qui-Gon, because he already knew Mace's opinion on this matter, "I took him as my first Padawan, it was my Master's last request."

Qui-Gon's face shone with horror and sorrow.

And the silence welled around them.

"That's unfortunate," Depa said mildly, though he knew her well enough that any comment on something so personal was sensor.

Qui-Gon —who now sat on the Council himself— apparently knew the same and flinched.

Jango then proceeded to sucker punch him in asking, "Who is Cody?"

"My friend," Obi-Wan said shortly, trying to close the conversation down.

He was exhausted and wanted to run back to Quin and sleep for weeks.

But Jango didn't let up, "Why have you called me by his name so often over the years?"

"Because," Obi-Wan drawled, knowing that Jango would get his answer on this one way or another. "You're identical."

Jango gave him an unamused look.

Obi-Wan shook his head, "Buir, trust me, you don't want to know."

"Alright," Jango said too easily. "How do I die?"

Obi-Wan winced, "You don't want to know that either."

"Try me."

"No, Buir."

"Tell me," Jango commanded.

"Fine," Obi-Wan snapped. "After our clan was destroyed, sans you and Myles." Obi-Wan paused, "Though I never heard of any children dying on that mission so I can't say what became of the Reeves. But I do know in that fight that you personally strangled five Jedi knights to death with your bare hands."

Jango took that in stride, but Obi-Wan saw understanding dawn on his face as to why Obi-Wan had been so afraid to tell him that he was a Jedi for so many years.

"Then the Jedi executed me," Jango concluded.

"No," Obi-Wan said. "Then Death Watch sold you into slavery. You regained your freedom a few years later and became the galaxy's greatest bounty hunter."

"Then how do I die? And don't tell me it doesn't matter."

Obi-Wan felt his expression go blank even as he said pleasantly, "Mace decapitates you. Which is why I laughed when I realized the two of you were working together."

"I'm sorry—" Mace began.

"Don't," Obi-Wan cut the man off. "He had it coming."

"Excuse me?" Jango asked, his emotion rising at Obi-Wan's lack of it.

"You joined with the Sith, Buir."

"I'm working against them now, ner ad'ika, and I'm working with the Jedi."

Obi-Wan sighed, "I don't blame you for the actions of that man but there is no justifying that man's crimes."

"Because I helped destroy the Jedi?" Jango asked.

"No, in many ways the Jedi had it coming too. We were just as guilty, perhaps more so. We let the Republic rot and we enabled its corruption as well as participated in it."

"Then what are you trying to say? What did I do?"

"I'm saying I've seen us all at our worst and I saw the Sith break us with our own shortcomings."

Jango was a stubborn tooka, "If not killing the Jedi and not joining with the Dar'Jetiiese, what did I do to earn death in your eyes?"

Obi-Wan hesitated.

"No more secrets, Obi'ika." Jango's demeanour softened. "It wasn't me, I won't be angry with you for how you feel or what you think of him."

The change in Jango's mood, the pleading in his voice, reminded Obi-Wan that Jango didn't give a kriff about that other reality except for how it affected Obi-Wan. He wasn't asking to know or to satisfy his curiosity, but to understand.

Understand— after Obi-Wan had left him in the dark from the beginning. Yet Jango still loved him and had begrudged him nothing.

Jango had never left him.

So Obi-Wan gave in, "You asked who Cody was; he was made from the worst of you, yet he was simitiously everything good about you. He was steady, incredible, and sure hearted. He didn't have your freedoms and yet no one ever cared as much for his men as he did."

"Who was he?" Jango pushed.

"He was one of your sons," Obi-Wan answered.

Jango arched a brow, "One of my foundlings, you mean."

"No, he was biologically yours," Obi-Wan said. "Though you never claimed him as yours."

Jango shook his head, "Obi'ika, I am asexual and a foundling myself. If I wanted children I would have adopted. I would have never willingly procreated."

Obi-Wan paused, soaking in that information. He realized that had probably accounted for much of the order and lack of desertions within the GAR. Being asexual had likely made Jango a better template. Not that all the clones were asexual, Obi-Wan knew for certain that many weren't, but even if a large percentage of the clones were more inclined that way, if they had lower sex drives altogether, it would have explained how focused and patient the clones as a whole had been at times.

Because, honestly, keeping the Jedi in order had been more difficult than an army of identical men with no leave time, which was… unprecedented.

"Not sexaully," Obi-Wan agreed. "He was cloned from you, Buir. Cody was one of three million soldiers who you allowed to be made from your own flesh and blood. Three million souls who you sold and damned to the Republic to end the Jedi. The Jedi didn't have the numbers to go to war, so Palpatine gave the clones to us. If the Jedi refused to fight they still would have been forced to, but would have been led by those who graduated from Corriellian Academy."

Jango looked as if he was struggling with denying that new information and his belief that Obi-Wan was telling him a possibility.

Mace, however, said, "We failed you."

Obi-Wan turned his attention to Mace who looked devastated at their part in an enslaved army.

Obi-Wan shook his head, "I wasn't an innocent in this. I was a High General on the Jedi Council. We like to think evil solely belongs to our enemies, but true evil are the justifications and lies we tell ourselves. That someone else's freedoms can wait, that ignorance is an excuse, that order is more important than justice. What we did to the clones, what I did… How I failed them and my Padawan and my grand-padawan… I'll never forgive myself for it."

"If you never forgive you will never heal," Depa said softly.

He caught her gaze, "I was pulled back in the middle of the war, but the Force showed me how it ended. I watched the Temple burn, I watched Mandalore burn, and it wouldn't have done so without my aid."

"Arrogance," Depa snapped. "Look at everything you've done with unclouded eyes, look at what you've done, who you have saved. The Sith had their eyes on you but now, in this life…"

Mace finished for her, "Obi-Wan Kenobi, all is how the Force wills it, but from your sorrows, your mistakes, and your pain, the Force has given the galaxy, the Jedi, and the Mandalorians a new beginning through your actions.

"But your suffering no longer serves you, your doubts no longer teach you. Your life is yours to live.

"You are no longer the point on which the galaxy will break, there are others now that must hold that weight. The Sith will never use you as they did. Even if they tried, it would not be the end of all that you love."

Obi-Wan was suddenly blinking back tears, and his voice broke, "I tried."

Jango put an arm around Obi-Wan's shoulders and Obi-Wan leaned into him for support.

Mace held Obi-Wan's gaze as he stated, "You never stopped trying, and given the opportunity, you saved us all."


AN: Thoughts, wants, nexu cats, feedback, pretty please?