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The stench of the night air was something from a nightmare. There were several bodies in the area that were still burning. Once you have smelled burned flesh and hair, it was something you never forget. The locals or those that were stuck on this plane called it Haven, which it was far from. For those in the Republic it had no name, it was a number. The planet had been torn apart in a civil war for almost 15 years with no hope of ending.


Hidden in the shadows of a debris there was a young figure that huddled for shelter and warmth. He looked out over the still burning bodies and corpses that no one had time to mourn. He thought back to a time when things weren’t quite so bad, when he still had a guardian, a master and a mother to show him the way.


The earliest memory of the he had was of his mother unwrapping a small burlap bag. Peering inside the bag, the young fingers wrapped around a long metal tube. The beautiful woman smiled as the force wrapped it's embrace around the young man. “We are Jedi.” She quietly whispered as the four year old opened his eyes wide. She had recounted many stories of the Jedi when he was just a baby helping him to sleep. He always went to sleep wishing that the Jedi would save them. It was a gentle prayer each and every night.


After that night she continued his education. She taught him the ways of the force and how to control it. Not only the connection to the force, but his emotions. She knew he was growing up in bad circumstances and didn’t want it to color his future. This one would not turn out like his father, he would not turn.


“Qui?” he was only six years old, but he already had the meditation skills of a Padawan. She stroked his long hair that curled slightly at the ends. The color of honey wheat, it was already starting to turn the darker color he would have in adulthood. What would happen to her angel when she was no longer there to protect him? Would someone find him so that he could fulfill his destiny?


“Momma?” The small voice was tender. “Are you ok, momma? You. F..F..Feel sad.” He reached up to her cheek as she was kneeling before him. He could feel the force swirling around her and knew something wasn’t quite right.

Looking down at her child, with unshed tears in her eyes, “I am sad Qui. We don’t have much longer. You will have to continue your journey on your own soon. I’m afraid…”


“Don’t be afraid. I will be ok. You will always watch over me no matter what. The force will guide us.” The little voice was too grown up and the dam finally broke within her. She swept the young boy into her arms and wept into his adorable hair.


It had only been a year later that she was gone. It made little sense to the young man that watched his mother fade away from an unknown illness that neither could stop. “I’m afraid momma. I don’t want to be alone.” He held tight to her hand as her chest barely rose to catch a breath.

“You will never be alone, my own.” Another breath, “ You will be a great Jedi, I…” He grasped her hand even tighter as the end was almost there. “There is no death, there is the Force. I love…” One last breath and she was gone.


It took almost sixteen hours, but the boy managed to give his mother a proper pyre. He watched as the smoke lifted into the air. He would never again forget that smell and he hoped to never smell it again.


Over the years, he continued to train and help those on the planet that he could. He managed to stay on his own, no matter the offers to take him in. He knew this was his own trial; he had to learn so that one day he could fulfill his mother’s last wish. He would be a Jedi and help those that could not help themselves.


He was now 11 years old and watching as the planet was tearing itself apart. It couldn’t get any worse, he thought. Father against son, mother against daughter, no one was safe. The bodies littered the plains and no one had time to bury or mourn the fallen.


As he hid in the shadows of a burned out building he gazed up into the sky and saw a bright light as something roared from the sky. It had been a long while since he last saw a ship land, but he recognized it for what it was. It was a shaky landing, but, it set down on the ground with a loud thud.


In the back of his mind, he felt something. He felt a warmth that hadn’t been there since his mother passed away. “Go…” It was but a whisper in his mind.


“Momma?” The blue eyes widened at the thought.


“Go little one, this is your chance.” The wind whispered.


With a flash, the plank from the ship was lowered and large man descended to the ground. “I don’t care if you couldn’t feel it. The force demanded that we land here. We have to find out why.” The dark-skinned man scouted around the ship as if looking for something.


“Excuse..me?” The youth’s voice cracked from disuse and maybe just a bit of fear.


The tall man turned around suddenly with his hand on a large round tube. He had a lightsaber! The youth’s eyes got larger and his feelings of relief almost bowled the stranger over. “Yes, young one? Can I help you?”


“My mother said one day you would come for me. That one day I would find my place. Are you here to help me?” Mace couldn’t believe the force presence before him. It was singing with the rightness of the boy’s statement.


“Who is your mother?”


“Syrah Salar. My name is Qui-gon Jinn, sir.” The tall man’s eyes showed little emotion, but with the mention of his mother’s name there was a flash of something. He couldn’t tell if it was a good or bad thing, but there was recognition.


“That cannot be, she was lost to us years ago.” The bald man knelt lower so he could look into the youth’s eyes as they continued their conversation.”


“She told me that she was on a patrol mission on the outer rim and lost control of her ship. She was stranded on this planet and hoped for rescue, but it was far off her patrol path. She was only a few weeks with me when she was stranded on this planet. I was born almost ten months later.” Qui-gon was trying his best to get it all out as quick as he could. He would be devastated if this man left him here. Alone, once again.


“I do not intend to leave you alone, little one. My name is Mace Windu and I knew your mother. We grew up together in the Jedi temple.” Mace suddenly realized that Qui-gon had not said that last part aloud. It couldn’t be.


Qui-gon looked up hopefully at the man, “How..But, I didn’t.”


Just as they both looked at each other, a large explosion rocked the area just to the east of the ship. They knew the ship had landed and they were on their way. “We need to get out of here, now Qui-gon. Will you go with us?” Mace held out his hand, knowing this would be really hard to explain to the Council and more so to Master Yoda.


Qui-gon looked at the hand and ran off toward the ruins of the building near-by. Mace frowned, thinking the boy was refusing. He turned back towards the ship and started walking up the walkway once again. “Wait!” The boy shouted and ran back to his side carrying a small bundle. “I had to get my things. It is all I have left of my mother.” He cuddled the burlap bag to his chest and reached out to grab the Jedi’s hand.


“Your mother is always with you, Padawan.” Mace choked back a small sob as the word flowed from his mouth. This child was too old to train and after his last apprentice turned he could not do this again.


“Padawan?” The boy looked at him confused. He knew the word from the stories and the lessons of his mother, but did it mean this man wanted him as a Padawan? Did it mean that he would be able to grant his mother’s dying wish?


Mace closed the hatch and called out, “We need to get out of here now Adi!” He knew he was ignoring the question, but this was a conversation for later. He pointed to a small chair in the main area, “Buckle up, this might get a bit bumpy.”


The tall man fled quickly to the cockpit. “We have company and need to get out of here now.” The ship was rocked by another blast and the younger Knight got the ship off the ground and back into the darkness of space. “Are you going to tell me about the young one that is strapped in the back. I can hear his teeth chattering from here. He's obviously never been in space before.” She smiled and knew that times were about to get interesting for Master Mace Windu.


“Don’t start, Adi. I need to contact the council. Can you please see to our guest and make sure he is kept warm. He is so grounded in the Living Force that space is going to be a shock for him.” He nodded toward the aft of the ship.


“Picking up another stray? The council is not going to like this one, Mace.” Adi turned back to Mace and placed her hand on his shoulder. He tensed for a moment, still unsure where the Force was leading him. “I know, Adi. I said I would never again take a Padawan, but I don’t think the Force is giving me a choice this time. There is already a…bond.”


The young Knight gasped at the thought. Bonds were chosen by Master and Apprentice. Only a rare few were granted a bond by the Force. They were indeed living in interesting times. Adi left Mace to the transmission and went into the back to see the young man that was thrust upon her friend.


He was huddled in the chair and shaking visibly from the frigid air. He was a tall youth and she could see the large man he would become one day. His long dirty hair was down to his shoulder and smudges of dirt on his face had shown a hard life already. He could be dangerous if trained now. She was sure the council would not allow it.


Grabbing extra thermal blankets from a nearby hatch, she curled them around the sleeping youth. He was mumbling in his sleep and she could feel his fear. It was understandable in his situation, but could the youth channel his fear. Was this child dangerous? She looked back in the cockpit and thought of the man inside. He had already lost one apprentice, could he survive another?


“Momma, They saved me, I will make you proud.” The youth’s words sent a shiver down Adi’s spine. “Sleep little one, you are safe.” She moved a lock of hair from his face and smiled, the force was wrapped around the young man as if in the arms of his mother.


Adi returned to the cockpit just in time to see the transmission shut off. “He’s asleep. Are you sure you are ready to do this?” She looked into Mace’s eyes and saw trepidation but hope there.


“I am not sure, but I must. The Force wills it.” He turned and plotted a course for Coruscant. The council be damned, he would have his Padawan.

Chapter Text

"Oafy-Wan!" The ginger haired little boy turned towards the loud outburst and clenched his hands and teeth. "Not today, please not today." he thought.

Why couldn't he do anything right. Like most days, he found himself on his knees in the gardens. He would meditate and hope that things would get better.

"It's pointless to keep coming here like you are really a Jedi! No one wants you here. You should just give it up already Kenobi." The white haired boy was next to him in a flash. A flash of pain wracked Obi-wan and Bruck grabbed the back of his neck pushing him down into the wet grass.

"Let him go!" The voice came from behind them both and Bruck looked up to see a young Calamari flying at them both. "LEAVE him alone, Bruck. I'll tell Master Yoda!" The Calamari girl was only 7 years old, but she would defend her friend with her life if need be.

Bruck stood up to his full height and stared her down. "What are you going to do about it, Fish girl? It really is sad that Bant must fight your battles, Kenobi. Are you afraid to stand up for yourself?"

"I'm not...afraid." Obi-Wan's hands were still clenched to his sides, but he was having a hard time controlling his anger at this point. He would not lose this battle again. He would look the other way and not give into Bruck's taunts.

Bant found her way to Obi-Wan’s side and tried to send some comfort to her best friend. "Are you ok Obi?"

Just as the words left her mouth Bruck reached over and pushed her to the ground. "You both belong together. You should both just leave the temple. You are so pathetic."

Closing his eyes and reaching out with the force, Obi was quickly losing his battle. "You are the pathetic one. You know there is something wrong with you, so you have to pick on anyone different than you! They will see through you one day, Bruck and I hope I'm there to watch you walk away!" Obi-wan leaped to his feet and stared the white haired boy down.

"I'm not the freak that has nightmares every night. That wakes up screaming. You're afraid and we all know where that leads." Bruck snickered once more and turned to walk out of the gardens.

Unable to control his emotions, Obi-Wan Kenobi ran towards Bruck and tackled him to the ground. "I am not a freak!" With tears running down his slender face, Obi turned Bruck around and straddled his larger body and started pounding and tearing at his flesh. He was enraged like never before. Bruck's face was pale and looked almost scared at his reaction.

It lasted only a minute before they were both torn apart from the other, suspended slightly off the ground. "Stop you must!" The gimmer stick hitting the hard ground made no mistake who had caught them fighting.

"Against the rules this is! Explain you will." The green troll-like master looked up at both the boys with sadness in his eyes.

"He attacked me for no reason! He's dangerous and should be sent away. He's going to turn to the dark side!" The words spilled from the white haired boy's mouth as he wiped away a bit of blood from his lip.

Yoda looked at the younger boy, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Like most children in the creche, Yoda knew him well. He was a promising child that was brought to the temple when he was just two years old. He was a precious toddler that was a pleasure to watch develop. When he turned six everything changed suddenly. He went from an outgoing student to a withdrawn and troubled young boy. He no longer sought out the company of other initiates and was often found in the gardens meditating when not in classes.

"True this is, Obi-Wan?"

With his eyes still glued to the moss growing on the ground his reply was just a whisper. "Yes, Master." He knew if he didn't agree with Bruck, he would take it out on his friend, Bant, later. He could take the punishment if it meant that she was safe.

"But.." Bant couldn't keep quiet. She knew he was protecting her.

"Enough this is." Yoda glanced at the children and let the Force ease from Bruck's body. "Go you will, both of you. See you in this position again, I will not." He pointed his stick at them both and dismissed them.

Bruck quickly exited the gardens with a smug look of satisfaction on his lips. This was becoming way too easy. Bant was not far behind him, but she kept looking over her shoulder at her best friend. Her heart broke as she saw the single tear that graced her friend's cheek. "One day it will get better." She thought to herself.

Shaking his green head, Yoda gently let the ginger haired boy to the ground, "Much fear and sadness I sense in you."

"Yes, Master." The words fell from his mouth like a recording.

Pushing the gimmer stick to his dimpled chin, Yoda looked deeply into his eyes. "Stick up for yourself, you should, but give into anger and hate you should not. Know this you do. Listen you do not. To the council this will have to go."

With each word that was spoken, his shoulders sunk a little lower. Each word seemed to weigh a ton. "Maybe I don't belong here." It was a bare whisper.

"Perhaps true that is. Ask yourself this. If belong here you do not, then where?" Yoda was old by anyone's standards and he had seen bullies of all shapes and sizes, but it never got any easier to witness. "To the council, we must go. Up your chin must be." Kenobi kneeled on the soft ground, his head bowed in an act of contrition.

Yoda started to reach out to the soft reddish hair in an act of forgiveness but stopped suddenly. He could not play favorites and must let Kenobi learn this hard lesson on his own. "Follow you will." Yoda started to lean on his cane and they both headed for the center of the temple where the council would once again convene to decide the young boy's fate.

 

After five days in the black of space, the stars continued streaking by the windows of the ship. They had almost reached their destination. Mace ran his hand over his face and realized that he hadn’t really taken care of himself the last few days. The stubble on his face was just one sign of the neglect. He couldn’t really even remember the last time he ate. His stomach was still turning at the recent events. How could he do this? How could the force ask this of him again and with this boy?

"Credit for your thoughts?" Adi had a knack for catching him off guard.

"How's Qui-Gon?" He knew he was once again avoiding questions, but he wasn't ready to answer just yet.

Looking behind her shoulder towards the other cabin her face softened a bit. "He's doing ok, considering. He's scared and cold. No matter how many blankets’ I wrap around him, he won't stop trembling. Can you feel how closely, he's attuned to the Living Force? I've never felt anything like it, except with Master Yoda."

Mace traced the lines of the console in front of him, as if it held the answers to life itself. "Coruscant is going to be tough on him at first because of it. I'm sure Master Yoda will be able to help him, if I cannot."

"Mace are you sure that you should take this boy as Padawan? His father.." Adi reverted her eyes from his, knowing this conversation wasn't going to be comfortable.

"He is NOT his father." His eyes flashed with something akin to fury.

"I know he's not, but you never really got over his father turning. How will you look into Qui-Gon's eyes and not see Rei-Gon."

"I honestly don't know, Adi." Mace bowed his head. "I've always tried to follow the force, even when everything in my own heart tells me to run. This boy needs to be trained. It would be more dangerous not to train him and let him turn anyway."

"Excuse me, M..Master?" Qui-Gon came from behind Adi with a cup of tea and some form of biscuits. "I know you haven't left this space much in the last few days. Y.You need to eat something." Passing the tray to his master, he bowed his head hoping that he had done right.

"Thank you, Padawan. I wasn't very hungry, but in the future, I am more of a Caf man than tea." He ran his hands through Qui-Gon’s long darkening hair and smiled for the first time in a while. It was a true smile that not only reached his lips, but also his eyes.

Adi sat in a chair, trying not to break the moment. Unfortunately the alarm rang loudly and disturbed the moment anyway. "It looks like we're home."

The stars stopped streaking and in the viewport there was a large planet that was nothing but lights. Qui-Gon gasped at the feeling of billions of inhabitants on the planet below. This would take some getting used to. This was definitely not Haven. "Things are going to happen very fast once we land, Qui." Qui-Gon warmed at the use of the nickname. "We have been summoned by the Council immediately. I want you to listen to me. No matter what happens, we will figure things out together. Do you trust me?" Mace went down on one knee in front of the youth.

"I know I've just met you, but I trust you." This time it wasn't a timid response, he truly meant every word. "What happens to me if they refuse me?"

"Live in the moment. In this moment, we are together." Mace opened his arms and Qui-Gon flew into his embrace. "Please don't take him away from me already. Let me do for him, what I couldn't for his father." Mace thought to himself.

Adi couldn't help but giggle at the scene before her. It wasn't something she was used to seeing from the stoic Jedi Master. He usually just scared the initiates and Padawans. He was even known to scare a few fellow Knights and Masters as well. "We have been cleared to land."

Mace walked down the ramp first, with his new ward a step behind and the left. His mother had already taught him so much. He wouldn't be far behind the other initiates, Mace thought.

Qui-Gon was a bit terrified if he was honest with himself, but on the outside he did not show it. He walked with his head held high as they transversed the hallways into a great temple. They stopped as they came to a great double door with a young man sitting at a desk before it. "They are in session at the moment, Master Windu." They will be with you shortly.

Just as the Padawan said that, the massive doors opened. "Come alone, you will. Wait the boy can." Mace placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it in reassurance. "Please have a seat over there. I hopefully won't be long." Mace took a deep breath and walked into the massive doors as they closed behind him.

Qui-Gon stared at the wooden frame for a moment before he heard a small cough over in the corner of the room. He saw a small boy, maybe a year or two younger than himself. The misery that was radiating from him almost made him want to sit on the other side of the room; however, he didn't want to be rude. This was hopefully going to be his home and he needed to try to fit in. Approaching the small boy he grinned, "May I sit with you?"

"Of course." He scooted over and offered him part of his bench. "I don't know you, are you in trouble too?"

"I'm Qui-Gon Jinn. I'm new here. Master Windu brought me. They are deciding what to do with me in that room, I suspect." There was something about this sweet boy that made him want to protect him.

Reaching out a small hand, "I'm Obi-Wan Kenobi. It's a pleasure to meet you. It seems the council holds both our lives in their hands."

As their hands touched in a handshake there was a small swirl in the force around them. "What..." Both boys said at the same time. When their eyes met with shock and fascination the doors once again opened and Mace walked out. "It is time, young one."

"I hope to see you again, Qui-Gon. May the Force be with you." Obi bowed to both Mace and Qui-Gon. "May the Force be with you, Obi. I hope everything works out for the best and we meet again."

Mace watched as the two said their goodbyes. Right before they entered the master leaned down and whispered, "Be strong and remember this is the will of the Force."

"Live in the moment." Qui-Gon held his hands in front of him as he followed his master into the council chambers to find out what his fate would be.

Chapter Text

Mace walked solemnly into the council chambers with his eleven year old ward in tow. He'd been in this position previously, with two very different children. The first was now Knight Depa Bilaba. She was his first Padawan. She had been a delight and a challenge to train, but then came Rei-Gon. He was a bright and gifted child, but Mace didn't see the troubling signs in time to save him from turning to the dark side.

Rei-Gon absorbed knowledge like he had walked the desert for a week without water. When Rei had turned nineteen standard he stopped going out with his fellow students. Instead, he would keep his nights within the temple archives, studying lost cultures. Not until later did Mace discover what his wayward apprentice’s subject matter was. He was researching other force based religions and cults. Many of these groups were of the light, but a few were anchored in the dark or believed in different colors of the Force. Rei's thirst to know everything quickly turned into obsession and many saw the toll it was taking on the Senior Padawan. Rei's eyes started to show signs of not sleeping, the dark circles, making him look less like a young man and something more from a scary holo-vid. He hungered for knowledge and tried to live strictly on the words gracing his pad. He was wasting away, losing weight that he could ill afford with his muscle mass.

A few weeks later Mace and Rei-Gon both found themselves in front of the council. Some of the teaching masters had mentioned the withdrawn and dangerous behavior that was emanating from Rei and had brought it before Master Yoda himself. The conversation was still etched in Mace's mind to this day. He defended his Padawan and told Yoda that it was just the work of a few Master's that hadn't seen the outside of the Temple in so long they wouldn't know the dark side if it bit them in the ass. He said it was just a phase and that they would work it out. His bright boy would not fall. He was certain!

With a warning to be vigil with Rei-Gon, they were given an assignment to a war torn planet in the middle Rim. At the end of the mission the planet had seen the death of over thirty thousand citizens and it was all at the hand of his fallen apprentice. How had Mace been so blind and arrogant not to listen to all the warnings? He was a failure and did not deserve to be called Master.

Rei-Gon had joined a sect of citizen that sought to overthrow the dictatorship that was bringing famine and suffering to a majority of the people. Without the guidance of his master, he joined and saw an opportunity to get rid of the band of guerrillas and keep the majority of the population safe from terrorism. He had inside information that the leader of this band and a majority of members would be attending a large rally in a nearby city. He saw this as an opportunity to strike out at the heart of the matter, once and for all stopping the revolution.

Mace felt the sudden painful cries and silence of more than thirty thousand souls. He staggered at the intensity of those deaths within the Force. He would never understand how someone could be so cruel and full of hate to kill so many people. "You don't have to hate someone to do what needs to be done." The icy tone of the voice sent chills up Mace's spine.

"Padawan?" Mace turned around and couldn't believe his eyes. "Rei, what has happened? Why can I no longer feel you?" Mace reached out desperately through their bond and felt, nothing. Their bond was gone!

"You Jedi are pathetic and cannot do what must be done to keep the peace and order of things. I killed thirty thousand people to save more than thirty million. It is a price that must be paid and you Jedi lack the courage needed to keep that peace." Rei stalked the Jedi Master before him, his hand on his lightsaber, ready to strike.

Getting to his feet slowly, the deaths still weighing down on his soul, Mace clutched at his own lightsaber. "Don't do this, Rei. We can help you back at the temple." He knew the penalty for turning, but he didn't want to think about the death of the joyful fledgling boy he accepted as a Padawan seven years ago.

"It is done, my former Master. You can let me go, or I can kill you. The choice is yours." Rei-Gon ignited his green blade and struck a killing blow towards Mace's chest. With the reflexes of a master, Mace ignited his own lightsaber and thwarted the strike at the last minute. Purple and green beams clashed as they began a combat that would have but one outcome. One person would walk away and one would not. Apprentice versus Master. Suddenly, the rocky terrain that they fought upon was shaken by a nearby explosion. Mace quickly grasped for Rei's hand as the ground underneath him gave way only to find it empty. He heard the scream of his Padawan as he fell from the rocky terrain into the ravine below. Mace held his head in his hands as silent tears streaked his dark cheeks.

It had only been a few years later that he had learned Rei lived. He was a fallen Jedi that was to this day still causing them trouble, all because he didn't finish the job years before.

"Second guessing yourself, you are?" Yoda broke him from the thoughts of the past. He needed to follow his own advice and live in the moment.

"Perhaps I am, Master Yoda. Doubts are often the falter of man, but the Force that is guiding me has no uncertainties. This boy must be trained." Looking behind him, he clasped Qui-Gon's small hand and brought him to rest in front of him. His hands were now relaxing upon the small shoulders in undeniable support. "I take Qui-Gon Jinn as my Padawan Learner and ask the council to listen to the force and not to our often times, flawed code."

"You are out of line, Master Windu." The words were coming from Master Sifo-Dyas, an older council member and habitually rigid man. "We have often looked the other way when you broke the code here and there, but you will not be as bold to tell us the will of the Force."

Mace averted his eyes and knew he was going to have to answer for his insubordination, one way or another. "I mean no disrespect. I. I have never before been moved by the force in such a way. Please don't dismiss this boy before he has a chance to fulfill his destiny."

"Tested he will be. If pass this council's test, to the creche he will go. Not yet ready to be Padawan would he be. Not ready to be Master again either, are you." Yoda looked down at the boy that had remained still as the adults in the room made choices and decisions for him. "What think you, young one? Right to speak you have."

Taking a step forward away from the comforting embrace of Master Windu, Qui-Gon started to speak. "I don't know the customs and rules of your council. I however do know the Jedi Code as taught to me by my mother as a toddler. I am not fully untrained. She taught me there is no emotion, only peace. We cannot live our lives in ignorance, there must be knowledge. Even if there is passion, we must strive for serenity as no one is a perfect being. When there is chaos we must find the harmony. With her death, I learned that there truly is just the Force to guide us. Please give me a chance, I won’t fail you.” The young man glanced to the hard stone below him.

"Tested you will be. Yes, Yes." Yoda's ears perked up and a small smirk graced his lips as he saw something that no one else did. "Please settle him in the creche, Master Windu. Convene again the council will when testing is completed. Prepared you both must be, easy this will not be. Dismissed you are, send Initiate Kenobi you will.”

As they walked out of the door, the red-headed boy looked up from the bench. “The council will see you now, Initiate Kenobi. May the Force be with you.” Mace knew the nine year old from sessions he had taught in saber technique. He was a bright child that seemed to have the worse luck in the form of resident bully, Bruck Chun. Many master’s had tried to have words with Chun over his behavior but when brought to the council they insisted that, initiates would be initiates. This too would pass, was the order of the day when it came to Chun and his pals. Qui-Gon regarded the young boy and hoped to see him again soon. “I will show you to the creche, Qui-Gon. Don’t worry, things will work out. I promise.” Mace ran his hand through the long tresses, letting his hand rest on the boy’s shoulder and guiding him through to the antechamber.

Obi-Wan took a deep breath and centered himself within the force. He knew better that to give into Bruck’s taunts, but here he was. Once again he was before the council and this time might be his last. “Again, you have been brought before this council young Kenobi.” Master Sifo-Dyas brought his gaze upon the boy. “Tell us why we shouldn’t send you to the AgriCorps?”

Obi-wan started to clench his hand tightly into a fist. His fingernails were digging into his flesh to keep him from moving. He must calm himself. “You should.” Even Obi-wan couldn’t believe what just fell from his mouth. “I have always followed the will of the force and have wanted nothing more than to be a Jedi Knight, Masters. I’ve had to work twice as hard to show half the results of others. Perhaps it is time for me to accept that the will of the force is to be a farmer.” His small voice was almost a whisper before he had finished. He couldn’t fathom what his life would become, a life without his best friend Bant and the Jedi to guide him, but perhaps he was the failure that Bruck constantly yelled at him.

Yoda turned to look at Master Sifo-Dyas and then back to the young crechling before them. When eight hundred years you become, know the look of defeat you will. Of course the council knew much more than the two boys thought. They were not so blind to see the pain and misery that was being inflicted on Kenobi, but they could not always interfere. How would they grow to be the Jedi they must be if they could not handle conflict on their own. “Give you two days, we will. You will come to me when you have made your final decision, young one. Choice to leave, you have, or choice to face your fears and suffer the punishment of this council. Option two, pleasant it will not be. However, like all life, always a choice there will be.” Obi leaned forward and just bowed. What else could he add? He knew that soon enough he would be on his way to the life of a farmer, forever labeled a Jedi failure. His shoulders hitched a bit as he bowed.

“Dismissed you are. Back to the creche you will go. No classes will you attend. In your quarters will you take meals. Meditate you must. Listen to the will of the force youngling, and not listen to your heart. Bruised and hurt a heart can be, not always truth it will reveal to you. Dismissed you are.” Yoda watched as the youth pivoted on his foot and headed back through the tall doors. “To lose this one, travesty would it be. Always in motion is the future, but a great Jedi Master I see.” Yoda’s ears lowered as a small frown graced his face. “Save this one, I must. Save the other Mace will.” He thought silently to himself.

Chapter Text

Young Kenobi sat with his legs folded underneath him. He knew he was supposed to be in meditation. It once had come so easy to him, but now he struggled to center himself within the Force. Why had it forsaken him? Clenching his eyes tighter, his nails were now digging deeply into the flesh of his palms, the blood starting to drop gently to the floor beneath him. “Please show me the right path…” His small voice filled the lonely barracks. Most of the initiates were deep in practice or required classes. He was left alone to determine if he was truly meant to be a Jedi. 

With his eyes closed, Obi-Wan tried desperately to center in the Force once more when suddenly he gasped. The Force started to flow through him, his center finally settling over the small boy. He let the warmth wrap around his very soul and fill all the dark spaces. This was the first time in almost a month that he had been able to touch the Force. It was like once again it favored him and showed him that there was light within the dark. 

Coming back from the meditation his eyes fluttered open and he realized that he was not alone. There was a hand on his shoulder, lightly placed and not restricting. “You…” Obi was speechless as he saw the older boy from the Council chambers sitting cross-legged and smiling. “Why did you help me?” He was shy and unsure, but he wanted so much to reach out to the lifeline that the Qui-Gon offered.

“Do they not teach you to help others here?” Qui-gon pushed his hair from his face and gave him a genuine smile. 

“It’s not so much that we aren’t taught to help others. We are just supposed to help those that aren’t Jedi.” Obi-wan didn’t move, feeling the living Force run through his body like never before. He didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize the wonderful feeling. 

Qui-Gon frowned slightly, a small wrinkle in his forehead coming out. “Everyone needs help now and again, even Jedi. You just need to know when and how to ask, Obi-Wan.” Lowering his eyes, Obi-Wan once again felt useless. Here was someone who wasn’t brought up in the temple and he had more knowledge and confidence. “Please, don’t doubt yourself. I don’t know exactly what is wrong, but I do know that you are worth more than you think. You just need to stand up for yourself.”

“Ben!” A small calamarian girl flew into the room and launched herself into Obi-Wan’s arms. “I was so worried! Please tell me that Bruck didn’t get you sent to the AgriCorps.” The fishy girl before Obi-wan looked to be no more than seven or eight years old, but she was definitely attached to her friend. “I know it’s hard Ben, but you need to stop letting him provoke you. You are better than that.”

“Am I? Truly?” Ben looked at his friend, the misery once again radiating from the small boy.

“Your focus determines your reality.” Qui-Gon smiled as he remembered his mother’s words. “Only you can decide what that reality is.” In one swift move the larger boy was on his feet and offering a hand up to the younger initiate. 

Looking at the offered hand, Obi looked up from long lashes and grabbed on with both hands. “Thank you, for helping me center and for the kind words. Not many initiates think I’m worth the time. I have Bant, but she’s in the younger classes and we don’t get to see each other much. Are you going to be assigned to our barracks?” 

“It looks like I’m here for now. I have to go through some tests and then we’ll see where it gets me.” 

“Look what we have here! It’s the freak patrol! Looks like they are trying to add more to the ranks.” The white hair boy only came up to Qui-Gon’s chest but he quickly got into his personal space. “How dare you think you can come into our ranks and steal Master’s that are rightfully ours. You don’t deserve to be here!” Qui-Gon watched as the finger poked at the top of his tunic, each poke thrusting harder against his body. If he continued much longer it would leave an ugly purple bruise. 

“Are you so threatened by me?” Pushing up to his full height, Qui-Gon towered over Bruck by about three inches. “You really should concentrate on your own business and leave Obi and young Bant alone. If we are all meant to be Padawan’s then the force will provide.” Bruck suddenly looked up and found the height difference a bit scary. One step back, then two. “I would suggest from here on out, you find another source of amusement.” 

“You are just a freak, of course you will look out for your own! If I see you alone, you will regret it!” Bruck turned on his heels and ran smack dab into a solid mass of flesh. “Master…I was just..Greeting our new initiate into our unit.” Bruck looked up into the violet eyes and dark skin of Master Mace Windu. They all knew the stories of Mace Windu and his failed Padawan. He swore never to take another, no matter how every initiate tried to catch his eye, Bruck especially. This was his master and he would be damned if Kenobi or this new freak would get their claws into him.

“Of course you were. Are you ready for your testing Qui-Gon?” Mace held out his hand to Qui, feeling his unease through their new bond. ~Are you ok, little one?~ Qui-gon’s eyes lit up as he heard the words through their bond for the first time. ~Yes, Master.~ He sent, loudly! Mace’s face flinched at the loud echoing words. 

~We must work on your volume, Padawan~ Mace wore a grin that reached all the way to his eyes. “Excuse us, but I need to get Qui-Gon settled into his tasks so he can join you permanently. Tugging at a strand of hair behind Qui-Gon’s ear, Mace led the boy out of the room. 

“Another freak. I should have known you would attract them.” Bruck saw an opportunity to strike out at him now that Mace and Qui-Gon were no longer there to help or witness what happened. Bruck struck out at Bant first, but Obi-Wan quickly threw his body in front of her, taking the brunt of the blow. “Leave her alone!” 

Obi-Wan held his side where the blow hit. “I’ll leave her alone, but she better get out of here, before I change my mind.” Bant ran for the door, her eyes pleading for Ben to follow, but she knew he wouldn’t. As she exited, she heard the next blow connect to her friend's ribs and heard the muffled whimper. “Why don’t you give up Oafy-Wan? You were meant to be a farmer.” As each blow connected to his side, he curled up into the ball. He would not let the anger win this time. He remembered the warmth sent to him by Qui-Gon and held on to that thought as his world turned to blackness.

The smell of cleaning sanitizer was something that was strangely familiar to young Obi-Wan Kenobi. He knew exactly where he was before even opening his eyes. He spent much time in the healer halls. What was it this time, he couldn’t remember, then a sudden deep breath brought wracking coughs to his frail body. “Still you will be. Much damage there is.” A small clawed finger settled over his forehead and Obi blinked several times, trying to adjust to the bright lights of the infirmary. “Happened, what did? Tell us you must, youngling. Found on the floor you were, left almost for dead.” 

Obi opened his mouth to speak, but found himself stopped suddenly. Why couldn’t he just tell them the truth. Would they once again find him at fault and send him away. “I don’t remember, Master Yoda. I…am, sorry.” He clenched his teeth together as the pain continued to run through his ribs. Seeing the green master’s ears droop, he knew he wasn’t fooling anyone. 

“Know you do, but tell you will not.” 

“I can not even defend myself. I’m not worthy to be a Jedi, Master Yoda. I was able to meditate, but only because of the aid of another. I can’t even center myself in the force! I’m a failure. It’s time for me to accept my fate. To be a farmer in the AgriCorps is still a noble cause. I will still help other’s. You said it was my choice. It is time to let it all go. I am sorry, Master Yoda.” The little boys eyes closed as the darkness once again took hold.

 

In another part of the temple, Qui-Gon closed his eyes in silent reflection. Things were happening so fast that he wasn’t sure which way was up anymore. He knew that he was on the right track and he wanted more than anything to be Mace’s padawan. However, something was tugging at the back of his head that something wasn’t quite right. There was reluctance to accept the force’s will. When the tall dark master looked into his eyes, it was like he wasn’t seeing him, but some shadow of the past. He had been through hours of testing already. He had to prove that he could guess silly things on cards, meditate and they even scanned his mind to find out about his past. He was open, but not wholly sure that he would past their tests. They seemed so sure that someone his age could start training to be a Jedi. Who was he to second guess them?

“It has been a long day, little one.” Master Windu placed his hand atop his head and smiled weakly. It seemed that the master was being tested just as much as he was. “We have done all we can today. Let me walk you back to the dormitory for the initiates and we will start again tomorrow.” Lowering his hand in front and motioning the boy before him, he stopped when Qui-Gon did not move. “Is everything alright?”

“Master. I don’t mean to pry, but..” Qui-Gon felt his mouth start to dry as he wasn’t sure he had the right to ask these questions to his mentor. “Why did they say that you weren’t ready for a padawan. Why when you look at me, does it look like you don’t wholly trust in me?” Pressing his chin to his chest, he looked down at the flooring as if it held all the answers to the galaxy. The expression on Mace’s face was hard to read and Qui-Gon wasn’t sure if he had just ruined any chance they had at being a team. “I…I’m sorry, it wasn’t my place to ask.”

Mace closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath. “You have every right to ask questions when you do not understand something. However, this isn’t the place for this conversation. Let us adjourn to my quarters for third meal and I will try my best to answer all the questions that you have.” Mace held out his hand and waited as Qui-Gon decided it was ok to accept. Once the smaller hand was in Mace’s palm he led them to up to the Master’s hall. Holding his palm to the pad, the door swished open and Qui-Gon looked around at a barren and sterile environment. “It’s not much, but I’m home so little. Perhaps once I have someone to help me, it will look more lived in.” The master motioned for the young man to enter and have a seat on the sofa. 

“Please feel at home. I’ll heat us up some food.” Qui-gon took that moment to continue to look around at the barren walls. It was like no one had barely touched these rooms. Was Mace never here enough, or did he find reasons not to make it lived in? He looked over at a small set of shelves where a few nick nacks were resting. Among the sparse treasures was a few rocks. One was a black stone with flecks of red that ran through it. He was drawn to that rock as it fairly hummed with the force. It was calling out to him. Just as he was about to touch the rock, Mace came back into the room and let out a sigh before the initiate was about grasp it his hands. “I was hoping to explain, but..” Mace’s eyes grew dark and his aura had fairly withdrawn from Qui-Gon.

“Something happened. Something bad happened and for whatever reason, It is related to me. Please tell me.” 

“Your instincts serve you well. There is something I must tell you, Qui. When I’m done you may no longer wish to be my Padawan. But i’m hoping you will understand and forgive me. That riverstone is from your father's homeworld and was given to me when he was but a boy.”

Mace started to weave the story of his previous Padawan, the father of one Qui-Gon Jinn. He left nothing out and at the end he was drained of emotion, not knowing how Qui-Gon would take the news. Rei-Gon, his father, had turned to the dark side and even now was an agent of evil because of Mace Windu. “After he turned and we found out he was still alive, we started to track him. We had to stop him from the evil he wished to unleash on the galaxy. In particular he seem to make it his mission to get revenge on me for leaving him for dead.” 

Qui-Gon sat quietly on the couch, unable to truly comprehend everything that Mace was telling him. His mother talked very seldom about his father. She told him that he was once a Jedi Padawan and that he had perished at the hands of someone very evil. Anytime he had asked who he was wand more details she would just get very sad and withdrawn and change the subject. Now he was finding out that he wasn’t killed and was still alive. “If what you are saying is true. He was already turned when my mother had me. I don’t understand, why would my mother be with someone of the dark?”

Kneeling next to the smaller boy, he reached out and held onto his hand. “I want you to understand something. No matter what I tell you now, please know that your mother loved you more than anything. You were wanted, you were precious to her. Do you understand that?” Mace hated that he had to be the one to tell Qui-Gon this hard truth. 

“I understand, but why did she lie to me?” Qui-Gon tried hard to hold onto the unshed tears that were threatening to fall. He felt like everything he had known and believed in were crumbling around him.

“About six weeks before your mother went missing on patrol she had a run in with Rei-Gon. They had been friends once upon a time and to be honest Rei had always had an obsession with her. She had been recently Knighted and was on her first solo mission on a mid-rim world. She was doing under cover investigations about working conditions on some mining colony. In her attempts to infiltrate the colonists, she ran into your father. He was mixed up in the ownership of the colony and immediately recognized her.” Mace swallowed and took a deep breath before continuing. “He took your mother prisoner and forced himself on her. She was beaten and left for dead in one of the washed out mines. We found her just in time and took her back to Coruscant for healing. She was told she was with child and sent to the soul healers.” 

The boy finally lost his fight as tears started streaming down his cheeks. “He raped her. I’m nothing but a mistake that she couldn’t get rid of…” This was the first time Mace had truly ever looked upon Qui-Gon as a child. He had always handled himself like a true Jedi that one could forget that he was only an eleven year old child that had been alone way too long. “How could she ever look on me and not see what he did to her..”

“Listen to me, my precious little one. Your mother loved you. Never doubt that. What your father did to her, was a horrible crime, but the result was something that I know she treasured every moment of her life. She was a Jedi and she would not hold that child responsible for what he did to her.” He no longer could sit by and watch the child before him shake and tremble. He gathered the boy in his arms and pressed him tightly to his chest. “For whatever reason, you are here and your mother and the force love you.”

“Do you still want me?” The shattered words were a whisper in the quiet still room. 

“Never doubt that for what ever reason the force brought us together, that I do want you Qui. I’m not sure I’m the best master for you or that I deserve a second chance to make things better, but I want you as a Padawan.” Pushing his finger under the boy’s chin, he lifted it up and gently pushed away the tears with his knuckles. “Do you believe me Qui-Gon, can you forgive me for not stopping your father from falling?”

“It was his choice. It wasn’t your fault.” Qui-Gon snuggled further into Mace’s embrace and wrapped his arms around the broad form of his soon to be master. “You could not choose for him, anymore than you can choose for me. I just don’t want you to do this for the wrong reasons, please take me for me and not because you are trying to change the past.” The boy was wise past his years, Mace couldn’t help but notice. “I take you for my padawan for many reason, Qui, but none of them are because of your father. They are for you. They are too see you succeed and become the grand Jedi that I know you can be.” Mace rubbed small soothing circles on Qui-Gon’s back and soon had a fast asleep boy snuggled up against his chest. 

Looking about for a way to escape without waking him, Mace realized that he didn’t wish to escape. He called over a blanket with use of the force and wrapped it tightly around them both and closed his eyes to join his ward in sleep. They wouldn’t miss him in the creche tonight. He would watch over his soon to be padawan and make sure he had nothing but sweat dreams this night. 

Unknown to Mace, his sleeping Padawan reached out through the force while sleeping and wrapped his comforting embrace around another young boy that need all the love and support that he was getting from his Master. Yoda smiled as he held Obi-Wan's hand in his and his body finally relaxed and gave into sweet dreams instead of the restless nightmares. They would be good for each other, he just had to meddle a bit and get their paths to cross once more. Lowering his ears, the wise Jedi Grand Master let the force flow through him. The force would guide him, even in this. 

Chapter Text

It was early the next dawn when Qui-Gon started to stir in Mace’s lap. It was rather the sight to behold as the fledgling boy was almost too large to still snuggle on someone’s lap. Mace’s arm was numb from sleeping wrapped around his soon to be Padawan. He had woken in the middle of the night, Qui-Gon’s arms slapping at his chest. He was deep within a nightmare that Mace had to turn for him. He couldn’t stand to see the boy in the throes of such a nightmare that he was sobbing and whimpering. After soothing his bad dream he was able to enter a light meditation to ensure that it didn’t happen again. It tore him apart to see the youngster so vulnerable and knowing that it was probably the tale of his father that caused it.

“Good Morning, Master” It was such a shy murmur, that Mace almost didn’t hear him. “Good morning, Qui. Did you sleep well? I’m afraid my bottom went numb somewhere around the early morning hours.” The chuckle that came out of the child was pure light.

“I’m sorry. You should have woken me up; I didn’t mean to be so needy last night.” Qui-Gon started to get off Mace’s lap, but was quickly pulled back into a gigantic embrace. “You can never be too needy, my young one. My lap will always be available, even when you are twenty years old and probably towering over me. It might look ridiculous, but we will do what we must.” They stayed in the hug for a few moments, but Qui-Gon got to his feet and offered his hand to his Master.

“Do you think we’ll get the results of my tests today?” Qui-Gon brought the huge master to his feet and they both strode into the kitchen to start first meal. Qui-Gon started to make a pot of Caf, remembering that he preferred it to tea. Mace started a pot of hot grains, setting two bowls on the counter. “We should get the results, but don’t focus on the future just yet. Remember we always must live in the moment and this moment demands food as I can hear your stomach snarling from here.”

Qui-gon looked at the ground, his cheeks turning a bright shade of pink. “You are probably right. I don’t think I ate much yesterday because I was so nervous. Master, I had a question, about the young red-headed boy we saw waiting for the council, Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Qui-Gon placed a cup of Caf near each bowl, as Mace filled the bowls with the sticky porridge. Just then a loud chime went off from somewhere in the living area. Mace swiftly left the room to retrieve his comlink. When he returned, he was speaking into the small metal device. “Yes, Master Yoda. We will be there.” Settling the comlink on the table he looked down at the concerned eyes of his new ward. “They have come to a decision and have summoned us immediately. Hurry and eat your breakfast.” Mace’s brow furrowed for an instant and he finished his Caf. “Remember, no matter what, you will have a future and I will be part of it.”

“Yes, Master.” Qui-Gon and Mace finished their meal quickly and headed to the Council Chambers. When they got to the hefty doors, they immediately opened and Qui-Gon’s stomach instantaneously twisted. This was everything he had fantasized of since his mother passed away. What would happen if they said no?

~One step at a time, my young one. Your focus determines your reality. Focus on this moment and we will see what happens in the future. ~ Mace sent the communication down their still deepening connection.

Qui-Gon felt the assurance and warmth that his hopefully soon to be master sent down their link. “Master Windu and Young Qui-Gon Jinn, summoned you were. The petition for Master/Apprenticeship approved it is, with restrictions. Sending you on a mission we are. If go well it does, then continue with his training he must. If you both fail, then the AgriCorps, Qui-Gon will go. Accept, you do?” Master Yoda appeared to be grinning at them both. Mace had a sense the old master was up to something. He was always known to be a meddling troll.

“We both consent to the mission and its conditions. We appreciate the chance to show that the Force meant for me to teach Qui-Gon Jinn. We express thanks to the council for the opportunity.” Mace bowed to the sitting six chairs. “Where are we going on this mission, my masters?”

“You are going to Bandomeer. There has been a request for aid by the mining Corporation there; we lost contact with them shortly after the request. You are to investigate and provide any aid that we can give. Offworld Corporation was last known to be run by Hutts, so cautiousness must be used. ” Ki-Adi-Mundi handed them a small data chip with all the necessary particulars.

“Also transport you will be for young Obi-Wan Kenobi. To the Jedi Agricultural Corps he chooses to be assigned. Once established he is, start your mission you will. May the Force be with you, both.” Yoda quickly dismissed them.

Qui-Gon followed his provisional master through the great doors once again, a grimace marring his porcelain face. Not paying attention, he ran into the rear of Mace. “What is wrong, young one? Is this not what you wanted?” Mace turned and kneeled down before him.

“I apologize, my master. I just. I know I don’t know him very well, but I’m sad that Obi-Wan won’t be here. He glows in the force; I don’t understand why he won’t be a Jedi.”

“Not everyone was meant to be a Jedi, Qui-Gon. I know that you took a liking to Obi-Wan but don’t denigrate his choice. To serve the force as AgriCorps, AirCorps, or even Knight are all a noble and just causes. He’s struggled for years with his rage. Perhaps this is better than him turning to the dark later.” Mace looked up into Qui-Gon’s eyes and saw the upset, not knowing why his young Padawan was taking this so personally.

“He’s meant to be more. I’ve seen it. He’s meant to be a Jedi.” Mace took his small hand and gave it a slight squeeze. “Perhaps the Force is not yet done with young Kenobi, just as it was not done with you. How about we go back to our quarters and get prepared for our mission?” They both left the council tower and headed back for Mace’s quarters, no their quarters now, Mace smiled at the thought.

“Place your palm on the pad, young one.” Qui-Gon stretched up placing his palm on the pad and it spoke softly. “Unknown signature. Key 2 authorization required. Input, Windu, Mace for completion.” Mace placed his palm to the pad.

“Authorization recognized Say title for Key 2.”

“Qui-Gon Jinn.” Mace finished the sequence and the pad lit up green. “Key 2 authorization, Qui-Gon Jinn. Welcome home.” The speaker turned off and Qui-Gon’s eyes were bright at the words, Home. The door swished open and they both entered to prepare for their first assignment as Master and Apprentice.

 

“You look out for yourself, Ben. I will miss you.” Tears moved down Bant’s cheeks as she said farewell to her best friend. She reached out and embraced him one last time.

“I will miss you as well. Remember to keep your chin up and don’t let Bruck mess with you. It is probably best to stay clear of him for a while.” Obi-Wan smiled kindly at his young creche mate. They had been together for so long it would be odd to not have her by his side. She had clinged to him since she was just a young babe and couldn’t pronounce his name, hence the nickname of Ben. She never grew out of it and now it was their private moment.

Obi-Wan finished packing up his meager belongings and set the bag on his bed. It was hard to consider that everything in his life was able to fit in one insignificant bag. “I thought this would be easier once I made the decision.” He unclipped his training saber from his belt and laid it gently on the table next to his bed. “No longer will I be able to wield this. No longer a Jedi.” One slight tear slid down his cheek as he bent his head once again to his comrade.

The small tapping of a gimmer stick was heard against the tile floor of the barracks, “Jedi you will always be. Change this nothing will.”

“Master Yoda.” Both younglings said at the same time.

“Come say goodbye I have. Walk to the transport together we will.” Yoda opened his hand and Obi-Wan kneeled one last time before the wise master. “Hope you find that which you look for. Miss you, I will.”

Obi-Wan looked up into the ancient master’s gloomy eyes and tried his best to smile. “You have always been there for me. I wish I had not failed you, but I will always live the code and do my best to help those who need it. You are the father I never had. I will be the best farmer I can be, if nothing else.”

Placing his clawed hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder, Yoda bobbed his head. “Honored I am to be thought as thus. Do well you will. Not done with you, the Force is. Perhaps meet again we will, hmm?” Yoda tapped his stick against Obi-Wan’s limb beckoning him to stand up. “Go we shall, Younglings? Wait, the transport does.”

Qui-Gon was two steps and to the left of his Master as they strolled to the platform where their transport was set to take off for their initial mission. As they got nearer, Mace saw that Master Yoda was waiting with Young Kenobi and his friend Bant. He could feel the misery radiating from the minor lad and wished he could smooth it over. However, not every one of their kind was meant to be a Jedi Knight. Stopping just in front of the diminutive master, Mace and Qui-Gon bowed. “We are ready to go, Master Yoda. Are you ready Obi-Wan?” The red-haired youngster dipped his head; Mace suspected that if he tried to speak now it might come out in a sob. “Then let us get on board and start our journey.” He motioned his hand toward the transport. “Qui-Gon if you could get Obi-Wan settled in.”

Obi-Wan looked one last time at Bant and took her hand in his. “I will never forget you. Be the Jedi that we both thought we would be. I love you, little sister.” Dropping her hand, he turned swiftly and walked up into the transport not wanting anyone to see his tears. Qui-Gon felt his own heart breaking as the boy entered the transport. Obi-Wan searched for his quarters, collapsing on the lower bunk. “Are you ok?” Qui-gon inquired. “I’m fine.” It was a lie and they both knew it, but he wouldn’t push until Obi-Wan was prepared.

“Would you like some tea?” He didn’t want to leave him, but he already could feel that the boy wanted to release his emotions without an audience. “Thank you, I would appreciate it.” Obi-Wan was once again on his feet, trying to settle in for the trip to Bandomeer, his new home. “I’ll be back shortly. It will be ok, Obi. Is it ok if I call you Obi?” Qui-Gon gave him a nervous smile, hoping to help. “Obi is fine, but my friends call me Ben. You can call me either. Thank you again Qui-Gon, I’m glad I’m not going alone.”

“Qui. You can call me, Qui. Ben, I know you’re afraid but everything will work out. Trust in the force.” He reached out and casually touched the tear-streaked cheek of the younger boy and offered him his support. Obi-Wan reached his hand up placed it over Qui-Gon’s, trying to smile at his compassion. “Thank you, Qui. For…Well for everything.”

Leaving Ben alone to unpack and get himself together, Qui-Gon went to the mess hall to make his young friend a cup of tea. “How is he holding up?” Mace walked in and draped his cloak over the small lounger in the room. “He’s trying to be strong, but he’s so sad. I’m making him a cup of tea while he settles in. I figured he needed a moment alone. “

“Your instincts are probably correct. Once you do that, we need to go over the mission. I’ve already taken a look and this isn’t an easy one. The conditions that are alleged are atrocious and we must be on alert for anything.” Mace approached behind him and relaxed both hands on the boy’s shoulders. “I know you are sad for Kenobi, but we must concentrate on our own mission. He has his own to attend to.”

Nodding, Qui-Gon continued to steep the minty tea he found in one of the cupboards. “Master, something tells me that Obi-Wan wasn’t meant to be a farmer.” “The future is always in motion, my own. Only young Kenobi can define his reality. But I also sense that we haven’t seen the last of our young initiate.” Mace turned and headed toward the cockpit. “I’ll be pulling up the files. Please join me once you are done.”

“Yes, my master.” Qui-Gon wondered if he would ever stop getting gratification from those two words. Taking the cup of tea and a few cookies, he returned to Ben’s quarters.

The door swished open as Qui-Gon approached but he wasn’t prepared for the sight before him. Obi-Wan was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor, his eyes shut and his face clear of all the previous emotion. Setting the tray on the small table next to his bunk, Qui-Gon sat opposite of his new friend and considered his features. His hair was shorter than his, with streaks of blonde that tinted his reddish head of hair. His cheeks were still a tad plump; soon those would be gone, giving way to the attractive young man that would soon form. The tears that streaked those precious cheeks were absent, which Qui-Gon was grateful. He hated to see anyone cry, but it broke his heart to see in his Ben.

“You’re back.” Ben opened his stormy grey eyes and smiled.

“I brought you some tea and a few cookies. I have a feeling that you haven’t eaten much recently, Ben.” Qui-Gon laid his hand atop Ben’s and got back to his feet. “Master Windu is waiting for me. I’m sorry to leave so soon.”

“Don’t be sorry. You have a mission to attend to and I have my own.” Just then, Ben’s face paled and his eyes took on a detached look. “Ben?” No reply. What was happening? “Ben, Please answer me!” Qui-Gon leaned over the clutched the boy by the shoulders and dragging him up with him. “Answer me!” Ben groaned as he came back to himself and held his head gently. “Ben? What’s wrong?”

The worried blue eyes bore into Ben’s. “I…I have visions sometimes. I have a bad feeling about Bandomeer. Please be careful, Qui.” Ben grasped for Qui-Gon only to pull away. He was fearful what else he might see. “Keep your mind on the present, that’s what Master Windu says. Will you be ok, Ben?” Ben gave him a somewhat shaky nod and reached for the tea. “I will see you for late meal, Qui.” Qui-Gon nodded and headed for the cockpit to study for his first mission. As the door to Ben’s room shut, he leaned his head against the icy metal. Ben wasn’t the only one to have a bad feeling. Something was looming over both of them, and he would do his best to focus on the moment, while being vigilant towards the future. He knew in that instant, that the Force wasn’t done with Obi-Wan Kenobi and neither was he.

Chapter Text

The next few days were packed with mission prep and meditation. They had mealtimes with young Kenobi, but otherwise he remained in his quarters. It wasn’t that he was trying to avoid Master Windu and his Padawan; he just didn’t go out of his way to spend time with them. He didn’t need the reminder that he would never have that relationship; he would never walk devotedly two steps behind a master. It was not meant to be; he kept echoing the words and even focused his meditations on them. With each minute they were growing closer to his new home on Bandomeer with the Agricultural Corps. They would assist with developing food on the sterile planet, to help feed those that needed it. It truly was a noble cause, if not the ideal that force sensitives endeavored for. Obi-Wan was sitting in the middle of his quarters, kneeling in meditation when he heard the chime at the door. “Come in.” His voice cracked somewhat from disuse over the last few days.

“We have arrived on Bandomeer. Master Windu said to prepare for landing. We will be at the AgriCorps complex shortly.” Qui-Gon smiled tenderly at his new acquaintance. “I know we don’t know each other very well, but…Are you sure of this path? It just doesn’t feel right to me. It seems you are meant for more than a dirt farmer.”

Ben chuckled in spite of himself. “I once thought that was true, but honestly, I think the force guided me here. It’s not where I want to be, but it’s where I’m supposed to be. Does that make sense?”

“It does, more than you know. When I was on Haven, my home world, I had similar thoughts. I often wondered why my mother died and why I was left alone. The force would always tell me that it was meant to be, that it wouldn’t be forever.” Qui-Gon smiled bashfully at Ben once again, “We will be stationed out of the AgriCorps until the mission is over. I hope that this won’t be the last time we see each other. I haven’t had many friends and I’d like to count you as one.”

Uncurling his body and standing up, Obi-Wan spanned the room to stand in front of Qui-Gon. “Growing up in a temple with thousands, I had very few friends myself, but I would be honored to count you as one of them. Perhaps this isn’t goodbye, just see you later?”

“That is better than Goodbye. I agree.” Both boys felt the ship shudder somewhat as it landed on the planet that held both their futures. “Who knows, if I don’t succeed in this mission, I may be stationed here with you.” He at least felt somewhat better knowing that he wouldn’t be alone if things didn’t work out with his Master.

“I know you have to be tired of hearing Jedi platitudes, so I will just tell you this. Stay close to your master and keep your senses alert. You will do fine Qui-Gon Jinn. You will one day be a great Jedi Knight. Shall we go see what the future holds for us both?” Ben grabbed his small carrier and headed out the door with Qui-Gon following behind.

Mace met them both on the exit ramp of the ship, “Welcome to Bandor, It’s the only city on this planet and houses all government and mining living facilities. I’m sure you have already done your own research, Obi-Wan. However it never hurts to make sure you are both prepared. The planet holds nearly 79 million inhabitants, most of them being the native Meerians.” Pointing to the northern shoreline of the city, “That is the start of the Great Sea of Bandomeer; it divides the planet almost in half. We are both here because of the same thing, ionite, an abundant mineral native to Bandomeer. Once, all this was rolling plains of lush greens and plant life. When ionite was discovered underneath the plains, everything quickly changed. The mining of the plains left the ecosystem almost ruined. That is why you are here, young one.”

Mace placed his hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder for comfort. “The Jedi established the AgriCorps on Bandomeer to try and help find ways to grow grains and food sources for the Meerians. Without them, without your help, they will not survive and many will perish from starvation. It is not an easy world or easy work, but it is a noble and just cause. Are you ready?”

Obi-Wan took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “I am ready, Master Windu.” Mace turned the boy and motioned for him to go before him. Clutching their belongings, Qui-Gon trailed Obi-Wan and his master to the AgriCorps headquarters to settle in. They were met at the entryway of the center for Agriculture by a young man who was maybe in his late twenties. He was wearing the light green tunics of the Corps. “Greetings Master, my name is Havasire. You must be Master Windu. We have set up quarters for you and your Padawan in the eastern corridor. You will find all that is necessary to complete your investigation, including access codes to our mainframe. Anything that we can offer is of course at your disposal.” Bowing to the Master, he turned his consideration to Obi-Wan. “You must be our newest recruit. Let me be the first to welcome you to our clan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. I will show you to your quarters and around your new home.”

Obi-Wan nodded to the man and looked anxiously to both Mace and Qui-Gon. It was quickly all become quite real and he was fighting to keep his fright to a minimum. He made this choice; he had to live with it. “Thank you, Havasire. May the Force be with you both.” Kenobi turned to his travel companions. “Will I see you again before you leave?” Qui-Gon looked up at Mace for guidance, “We will make sure to say goodbye, little one. I promise.”

Qui-Gon whispered, “Not goodbye, see you later.” Qui-Gon watched as his first and only friend submissively walked away to start his new journey. “He will not be your last friend, my Padawan. The future is always in motion, perhaps your courses will cross again. Let us head to our quarters to get our mission under way.” Mace turned on the balls of his feet, the cloak flowing after him; his young charge a few subsequent steps behind.

A few hours later, both master and apprentice had departed their quarters and travelled to the mining headquarters. It seemed there were two mining companies that were contending for ionite on Bandomeer, Off World Corporation, run by a Hutt named Jemba and the other, Arcona Mineral Harvest Corporation, run by operations manager Clat’ha. Mace had perused through all the mission materials and came to the conclusion that when Hutt’s are involved, it was never on the up and up. He had made an appointment to meet with both managers. “Keep yourself alert, Padawan. The force will guide us in the right direction. Keep quiet until spoken to, these types will not look at you as a Jedi, just a young boy.”

“I understand, Master. I’m used to being misjudged. Haven residents looked on me in a similar way.” Qui-Gon wrapped his arms around the front of his robes, clasping his hands inside the sleeves, much like his master.

“Jedi Master Windu, we are pleased that you are here.” The voice that approached them was that of a young female with captivating jade eyes. “Let me introduce myself, I’m Clat’ha, operations manager for Arcona Mineral Harvest Corporation. I’m glad that the Jedi are taking this matter seriously as Offworld Mining Corporation have over stepped their boundaries. They are sabotaging our strip mines and in the process killing some of our workers. It’s deplorable!” The fiery-red head didn’t seem to even take a breath as her story poured out. “We’ve lost three mining operations already, not to mention over a 42 deaths. That doesn’t take into account the many that were injured. They must be stopped Ser Jedi!”

Mace nodded to the young lady, “I can understand your concern. We are here to investigate both operations and determine what aid can be given. I am sorry for those that have perished. Do you have any direct evidence that Offworld is responsible?”

“Of course not, it’s not like they are going to send us a holo-vid of their involvement, but we know it has to be them.” The air seemed to deflate from the operations manager. “I wouldn’t assume they would, but we are impartial Miss Clat’ha. We will need to tour your operations center and some of the mines where the incidents happened. Can you provide us a guide?”

She nodded. “I will be more than happy to provide you the very best. The mines in question are very unstable, however. You must be very careful.”

“We are aware of the danger. If you can provide the guide now, we will get started.” Mace looked behind him to see Qui-Gon paying close attention to everything going around them.

~ Reach out with the Force. Do you feel anything, Padawan? ~ Mace communicated with Qui-Gon while Clat’ha summoned an older man to assist them.

~ Master, I don’t sense any deceit from her. She seems generally concerned for her workers and determined to see Offworld pay for it. However, what she believes to be true, might not necessary be the truth. ~ Qui-Gon sent back to him.

~ Very good, Qui-Gon. Your instincts are leading you in the right direction. Keep your focus when we tour the mines. We might be able to get a sense of exactly what happened there. ~ The older man nodded to Mace to follow.

After a short ride, the two Jedi looked out at the barren land that surrounded the mine. To think that this world was once lush, fertile and full of the living Force was a shame. “Was this the last mine to have an incident?” Mace asked to their escort. “It was. It was closed down about six days ago. We lost fifteen good men and women when there was a awful explosion. They know it’s a dangerous business but this explosion was closer to the entrance, not where we were extracting the ionite. It made no sense.” The chiseled man hopped down onto the dusty ground and motioned for them to continue their exploration.

“You can stay with the transport. We will go on alone.” Mace made his way to the stony opening. It really was nothing more than a large mouth of a cave, reddish and black rock lining the way inside. “Keep your focus, Qui. I still sense danger radiating inside. It still isn’t stable after the cave in.” “Yes, Master.” He reached out with the Force and felt the echoing loss of life. Qui-Gon was firmly embedded in the living Force; it was hard for him to feel such anguish and distress. He brought his fingertips to the almost glass surface of the rock that had melted from the blast. His hand recoiled from the rock abruptly as he looked up at his Master. “It’s a trap, Master!” Mace’s head bolted up as they both ran back towards the transport. Just as they reached the older man, the rest of the cavern fell in, blocking all from entering. “Master, we were meant to be caught in that. This definitely isn’t just bad luck.” Qui-Gon’s breath was evening out from the run. “Indeed.” The only term to leave his master’s lips where unsettling to his ears. He was sensing something or knew something but wasn’t sharing just yet. “We will see the next site, Ser.”

“We can’t! I mean. I was only set for this one site. It’s going to be nightfall soon, and we won’t have proper gear for a night excursion. We can return in the morning, Ser Jedi.” Something was off about the older man, he was concealing something. “Fine, in the morning we shall go, will you be our guide again?” Mace questioned, his brow slightly elevated at the gentleman.

“Of course, I am at your disposal.”


 

Obi-Wan followed Havasire into the AgriCorps offices, shouldering his bag. “I hope your travel here was pleasant.” Havasire gave Obi-Wan a genuine smile. “I know that you are still young. Usually most initiates are sent to us when they time out of the temple at thirteen. It cannot be easy to come to such a strange place all alone.”

“I’m not alone. I still have the Force for comfort.” His voice sounded so insignificant in the barren room.

“Indeed, as we all do. You will be given your assignment tomorrow. Today I’ll show you to your quarters and give you the grand tour. You will be sharing rooms with three others. They will help assimilate you to our ways. It’s not terribly different from the temple. You will still attend instruction until you’ve reached your majority. In between classes you will have an area of responsibility. Typically new recruits will assist with the introduction of new seedlings, assisting them in germination.” Havasire motioned for the recruit to follow through the glass doors that opened to a long hallway. “This is the way to the living section.” Motioning to the right, there was another hallway. “That will lead you to the mess hall. It will serve first, second and third meals. They typically will have grab and go items that you can heat up if you are on a late or swing shift.”

Stopping at a white door, he gripped Obi-Wan’s hand and palmed it to the pad to the left. “These will be your rooms until you are older. Then you will either earn a single room or only one roommate.” The pad turned green, accepting his signature and the door slid open. When the door unsealed, three younger heads turned to stare at the newest of their ranks. “Greetings. This is your new roomie, Obi-Wan Kenobi. We expect you to help him settle in and learn our ways. Understood?” Havasire glanced at the three nodding heads. “Pleasure to meet you, Kenobi. My name is Liam, that’s Provin and the lug who can’t be bothered to get out of bed, is Chase.” The boy that introduced looked about fifteen years old with short, cropped blonde hair. Obi-Wan held out his hand in friendship and Liam shook it slightly. “Still has manners. Something we will drill out of you. This isn’t the temple, Obi. No need to be a stuck up temple brat any longer.” Unsure, Obi-Wan took his pack and set it on the empty lower bunk.

“Thank you for showing me to my quarters, Havasire.” He sat on the bed and glanced around the room to get his bearings. “It’s late, make sure you bring Obi-Wan to third meal. Then make sure he gets to the main office in the morning so they can set up his assignments. Good night, boys.” As Havasire walked back out the door, the boys immediately turned their sights Obi-Wan.

“Wow, you are young. You can’t be older than ten years old! What did you do to get thrown out of the temple?” Liam and the other boys stared. “I didn’t get thrown out. I requested to be sent here. It’s…a long story that I don’t wish to tell.” Ben pulled his legs to his chest and curled up on the bunk. He was so cold and if he admitted to himself, afraid. “Great, we are going to have a baby for a roommate. Why do they always send them to us?” Chase remarked.

“That’s enough. It’s got to take guts to choose this life. I know I wouldn’t have chosen this. It’s time for food, you coming squirt?” Liam asked Obi-Wan. “No thank you. I’m not hungry.”

“Don’t skip too many meals; you will need your strength. It’s not exactly easy work here, Obi.” The three boys quickly left Obi-Wan alone in the room. What was I thinking, Obi thought to himself? He coiled his arms around his lower body and felt the grief over take him. Obi-Wan couldn’t stop the tears from flowing as he wept himself into a fitful sleep.

In another part of the structure, Mace and Qui-Gon had returned and were getting settled into their quarters. They had stopped by the mess hall and brought the meal back to their rooms. “You did well today, Padawan. I think there is much more at work here than just two corporations vying for minerals. We must keep on our toes and expect the unexpected.”

Letting out a big yawn, Qui-Gon stretched up towards the ceiling. “Yes, Master. Something wasn’t quite right about our guide. He was concealing something, but I couldn’t get a hold of just what it was. He could have just been nervous because we are Jedi.”

“Finish your meal, young one and then off to bed with you. You are dead on your feet already. We will start first thing in the morning.” Qui-Gon’s face softened for a moment, his eyes getting a distant look to them. “Everything ok, Qui?” His master asked.


 

“Yes, master. I’m fine, just tired as you said.” Qui-Gon didn’t like lying to his master, but it was hard to explain how he could tell that Ben was crying. He could feel the misery through the force as if it was his own. He sent out a modest tendril of reassurance and comfort to his new friend. He knew that having his mind on Ben and not the mission wasn’t a good thing, but he would do what he must to let his friend know he wasn’t alone.

“The trap didn’t work!” The older man said over the comlink. “You said that it would keep those nosey Jedi out of our business, now they suspect that I’m involved and want to see the older mining site. What if they find out?” The older guide was sweating profusely.

“They won’t suspect you if you act normal. I should have known my old master wouldn’t be so easily taken care of. I will finish the job tomorrow. Him and that little street rat of his will be taken care of.” The man shut off the comlink and clasped his hands together. Rei-Gon Jinn let out a cackle that would make the criminally insane proud. “It’s time to pay, My Master. You will wish you never heard of Bandomeer and Offworld Corporation.”

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan woke up stiff from sleeping curled up. Dried tears were caked against his cheeks from crying himself to sleep. He could only envision the sight he gave his three new roommates when they returned from last meal. What a great first impression to set, Kenobi. He thought to himself. Stretching out his legs, he stood slowly taking in his new residence. It wasn’t exactly like the creche, but it had its comparisons. There were two bunk beds, much larger than the ones in the creche, mostly because they were meant to fit older temple wash outs. No not wash outs, they weren’t failures; they just had a different destiny. “Keep telling yourself that. You know you’re a failure. Everyone in the temple knew it as well. Why do you think Bruck picked on you? He could smell it on you.” The small voice in his head was mocking him. “No, that’s not true.” Ben murmured out loud to the quiet room.

“What’s not true?” Obi-Wan was startled from his feelings by Liam jumping from the top bunk. “Nothing, I was just...” “Talking to yourself? You are a peculiar one. Don’t let the other two hear you chatting to yourself or they won’t stop heckling you for it. I remember when I first came here; it was hard to fit in. I know that you elected to be here, but you can’t let this place get to you. If you let it, it will overwhelm and destroy you. I’ve seen it happen to others. There was a boy not long ago who went bat shit crazy and branded himself with this ring. He ran away and we still don’t know to this day if he lived.” Liam approached Obi-Wan slowly and knelt before the small boy. “If you need help you can come to me or Havasire. He likes to look out for us, deep down I think he has a few daddy issues and likes to think he’s looking out for us like a father would. Harmless enough, plus it gets us out of duty now and again.”

“I don’t want to get out of my duties. I just, want to feel like I belong.” Obi-Wan’s eyes changed from a faded green to a stormy grey as he gazed at Liam. At that moment, his stomach felt the need to rebel and let out a loud growl. Chuckling and shaking his head Liam offered his hand to the young boy, “I think it wasn’t wise to skip third meal last night. Can I offer you a guided tour of the mess hall?” Ben took the offered hand and was pulled up quickly. “I guess I am a bit hungry.”

Once again, Obi-Wan heard the small voice inside his head, “You don’t belong here. You didn’t belong in the temple. You simply don’t fit anywhere.” He suddenly wondered if he was starting to go insane. He rattled his head from side to side as if to get clear the thoughts, he trailed Liam out the door to start his first day in the AgriCorps.

“I’m getting a stronger connection to the little whelp, Master.”

“Good, Good. He will make a good apprentice one day. He’s so strong in the light, which will make him that much sweeter to turn.” Rei-Gon Jinn turned to the lithe young man next to him. His straight, pitch black hair concealing the scar on his face. “Things are playing out just the way I wanted, my apprentice. Did we get any more information on the little whelp traveling with my former master?”

Pulling up a data screen, Rei-Gon’s apprentice, Xanatos du Crion, started flipping through pages of Jedi Temple information. “It’s getting easier to tamper with their mainframe; you’d think with their kind of funding they would have a better system.” Xanatos had been with Rei-Gon for almost six years, he was now twenty standard. He was found on Bandomeer shortly after his fourteenth birthday, where the Jedi had abandoned him. He had one chance before being sent to the AgriCorps; one master that could have saved him from the farming fate, but Master Dooku refused him. He was too selfish to give his twilight years to another Padawan; the old fool would pay for that mistake. Xanatos found Mace Windu’s file after a moment and gasped out loud, “Master, you are going to want to see this for yourself.” Xanatos pointed out the data pad and under Padawan status there was a name. “Padawan, Qui-Gon Jinn, it can’t be!”

Rei-Gon quickly snatched the data pad from his hands and pulled up more information on his old master’s new Padawan. He scrolled through the information, Mother: Syrah Salar, Father: Rei-Gon Jinn. Rei-Gon’s fury ignited in a flash and he threw the data pad against the cold steel door of their quarters. “How dare they keep this information from me? How dare they steal my blood from ME!”

Xanatos stepped back from the enraged man before him. This changed everything. He would not be replaced by some young snot nosed kid just because his mother opened her legs to his master once. “Does this change our plans, Master? Sidious insisted that we get rid of Windu and his whelp.” As the words left his mouth, Xanatos found himself hurled into a nearby wall.

“Don’t think you can hide your jealousy from me young one. I can feel it rolling off of you like a bad stench. This will not change your place by my side, but I will not see my flesh and blood a slave to the Jedi ways.” Rei-Gon approached him and ran his large hand through the long streaming locks of hair, only to grab a handful and forcefully pull the young man closer to his lips. “You will undo me one day, my Xani” He brought his lips forcefully to the younger man’s, crushing in their embrace. His tongue pried apart the gentle folds of skin to get to the treasure inside. “Mm, my apprentice, we will continue with the plans as they are for now.” Wrapping his arms around the svelte body, he placed his chin upon the shadowy mane. “It’s time for my master to pay for everything, including stealing my son from me.”

Xanatos’ eyes flashed a pale yellow as his arms tightened around the muscular form of the man he loved above all. ~ You cannot fool me, my lover and master. I know you too well. I will not be denied what is mine and mine only. ~ He buried his dark thoughts as Sidious had been teaching him. His master would know nothing until it was done.


 

Mace chuckled at his new apprentice, his hair was plastered to his face and his snoring was loud enough to wake the dead. “Time to wake up, my own.” He pushed the strands of hair off his forehead and smiled. He couldn’t wait until this mission was over and he had the right to shore the locks away to a Padawan cut and start his braid.

“Is it morning already?” Qui-Gon shot up from the bed, wiping at his drowsy eyes. “I’m afraid so. We have a long day ahead of us. We will start with the second mining incident and interview the operations manager from Offworld.” Leaving their quarters after a quick shower in the refresher, the pair made their way to the mess hall to have first meal. “Ben!” Qui-Gon shouted out as he saw the young man sitting a table with another. He looked up at his master, almost pleading to say hello to his friend. “Go. I’ll grab us some food.”

Qui-Gon quickly approached the table and smiled, “I didn’t think I’d see you again so soon, Ben. Are you getting settled in?” “Yes, it’s not so bad. This is Liam, one of my new roommates. I’m going to get my assignment today. How is your mission going, Qui?” “It’s a lot more paperwork, then I thought. But hopefully we will learn more today when we visit some of the sites.” Qui looked at the dark circles forming under his friends eyes. He knew that Ben wasn’t holding up as well as he was saying. “Are you sure you’re OK, Ben?” Qui bent closer to his ear and whispered.

“I’m fine, Qui.” ~Liar! He thinks you’re going loony. I bet he is starting to think you are truly Oafy-Wan. He’s probably laughing at how pathetic you look. ~

“Obi?”

“I said I was OK! Can’t you leave it alone? I don’t need you to watch after the poor pitiful wash out!” Obi-wan ran from the table, leaving his food untouched. Qui-Gon was about to run after him when his master laid a hand on his shoulder. “You need to eat, Padawan. The mission must come first. He will be OK.” He wasn’t so sure his master was right about Obi-Wan but the mission did need to come first. But Obi-Wan would be second, he would find out what was harming his companion.

After a meal eaten in silence, Mace and Qui-Gon left to meet their guide from the night before. “I have new orders, Masterson. Try to separate the Master and young boy. I want the lad alive.” The older man was waiting at the transport for Master Windu when the comlink had come to life. “I told you not to contact me like this. They could show up at any moment.” He growled into the metal tube. “Don’t forget your place. I can ruin you, or you can benefit from our arrangement. The choice is yours. I don’t want the boy harmed, do you understand me? Once Windu is dead, bring the boy to me.” “As you wish.”

Just as he turned off the comlink, the dark-skinned master appeared with the boy in tow. “Master Windu, are you ready to head to the second mining site?” He gestured to the land speeder that was waiting. “Indeed, we are ready when you are.” Qui-Gon sat next to his master and glanced at the older man once more. He could feel the fear, anxiousness and anger rolling off their guide. ~ I have a bad feeling about this master. ~

~I do as well, my Padawan. Make sure to keep your focus while we are in the mines. We do not want a repeat of yesterday. ~

“How long has this second site been closed?” he tried to start up a conversation to see if he could throw the older man off balance so that he would reveal more. “About three weeks, give or take a day. We didn’t lose as many, only nine workers lost their lives, however many more were injured. I personally don’t understand why we don’t just give it up and let Offworld have her. It’s too dangerous!”

Mace looked out at the landscape and saw another cave entrance. This one, instead of black and red glass-like rock had black and silver veins in the rock. “We are here.” Masterson snarled as he set down the transport. “Would you be willing to show us around, Masterson?” “Not on your life! Not on my life. That thing isn’t safe, especially after the collapse last night. I personally don’t understand how you can take a young boy into danger like that!” ~Got ya, Master ~ he thought to himself as he watched a frown cross those dark lips.

Mace looked over at Qui-Gon and thought perhaps the man was right. He should scout the scene alone first to make sure it was safe. “He is right, Padawan. It would be foolish for us both to traipse inside without any prior inspection. I will go in first, once I have determined that it is warranted, I will send for you.” “But master! My place is at your side.”

“Always by my side, Qui-Gon. However there will be times that our duties will separate us. This is one of those times. If something was to happen in there, it is your responsibility to continue. Do you understand?” Feeling thoroughly chastised Qui-Gon looked down at his boots and nodded. “Yes, Master.” “Good, I won’t be long. May the Force be with you, Qui.”

Masterson stayed close to the vehicle, reaching into a compartment for something small and circular, screening it behind his back as he rested against the metal frame. Qui-Gon moved closer to the entrance to watch his master disappear into the darkness of the mine. When he heard the snap hiss and purplish hue of Mace’s light sabre, he sent a quiet thought through their bond, ~ be careful, my Master…please. ~ Just as the words left his mouth, a small explosion was felt within the mine. Qui-Gon started to run for the cavern as he saw it start to give in. “Master!” He extended out to the force and felt his master’s slight panic as the walls started coming down on top of him. A small boulder struck Mace in the back, knocking him to the floor and immobilizing him. He lost consciousness just for a moment as he heard his Padawan scream out in disbelief and pain, only to feel their connection disappear completely. No, he can’t be! I can’t lose another!

“He was outside, he’s safe. There has to…be…” Mace tried to shake the lethargy from his head, but he knew he was bleeding profusely. “Padawan…” Just as the darkness threatened to take him once again, he felt an old bond make itself known. ~ You and Syrah were foolish to keep what was mine. Qui-Gon will be my legacy, not yours ~ Mace couldn’t break from the fog of the concussion he was sure to have, to respond. “Rei-Gon…no.” He could not fight the blackness any longer; he let it engulf him.

“Master! The boy was clawing at the rocks, trying to reach him. He didn’t even have the awareness that someone was approaching him from behind. Masterson quickly locked the small circular collar on the young boy and watched him shriek and scratch at it. He wasn’t force sensitive, but he had to imagine it was hard to live without something you touched every day. The boy turned around and started to attack the older man, but he quickly raised a blaster. “This is set for stun, but I can always arrange for an accident. You are to come with me.”

“W...why?” Qui-Gon grasped onto his head, the loss of the force almost unbearable. “Someone wants to meet you. He insisted.”

“W…who?”

“Rei-Gon Jinn, horrible bastard that he is. Don’t know why he wants to keep you alive.”

“F…Father.” The young boy stumbled for a moment and then fell to the ground.


 

Obi-Wan Kenobi had just finished his paper work in the main office and was proceeding to his first assignment with plant germination, when he let out a scream that got the attention of everyone nearby. “What the hell is wrong with you, kid?” Liam ran over to see the young boy clutching at his head, on his knees.

“He’s…gone. He’s just not there anymore.” Obi-Wan looked at the operations manager that had just arrived, Clat’ha, with water in his eyes. “Master Windu and Qui-Gon are in trouble. You need to send help!”

“Are you sure, we haven’t gotten any reports.” She looked to her secretary still sitting at her desk. “No reports…Wait; there was just a report of an explosion at Site 48 alpha.”

“We have to go, I have to go!” Ben stood up and stared down both Liam and Clat’ha. “That isn’t your life anymore, Obi-Wan. You have an assignment to keep.” Liam said softly, keeping Obi from falling over.

“I may no longer be Jedi, but I still follow the Force and it’s telling me to go. We have to hurry!” Both Liam and Clat’ha nodded, knowing it was better to concede than stand and argue further. ~ Please be OK Qui. ~ Obi-Wan sent out with the force. Please don’t let my visions be true this time, he squeezed his eyes shut as they jumped a transport and headed for the explosion site.

Chapter Text

Obi-wan sat in the speeder, stretching out with the force, trying to find some hint of his friend, to no avail. He just wasn’t there. He could feel the weak presence of Master Windu, and concluded that he must be unconscious. “Can’t we go any faster?” the thick accent coming out compellingly. “We are going as fast we can little one.” Clat’ha would think it almost comical that she was taking orders from a boy that could be no more than ten, if she wasn’t afraid of what they were about to find. Obi-Wan shut his eyes for a second and took a deep breath, trying to center his emotions like he was trained. “I’m sorry. I…just.” Liam placed his hand lightly on the young boy’s shoulder. “It’s ok squirt. You’re just scared for your friends. Understandable.” Just as he finished the sentence, they both looked up and saw the smoke and dust rising just ahead.

“There is the site.” Clat’ha’s eyes darkened as she thought about the last time she had been to this same site and had to collect the bodies of the perished. “I don’t see their transport. Perhaps they weren’t inside or hadn’t made it to the site yet?” She stopped the speeder just short of the entrance and jumped out to take a look around. “No, they were here. I can feel Master Windu’s force signature inside the mine.” Obi closed his eyes once more and reached out with all his strength. “I don’t…I can’t feel Qui-Gon or the guide you sent them with.”

“If Windu was inside when the explosion went off, perhaps the other two went to get help, but I’m not sure why they wouldn’t just call. This isn’t adding up.” She tugged on her hair, pulling it back from her face into a pony tail.

“I’ll com for some help. We’ll need equipment and a medic to reach him.” Obi-Wan nodded, but he could feel the Force telling him to act now. “I’m not sure he’ll be able to wait.” The lad looked at the rocks, letting his hands flow over each one, searching for a weakness. Liam just shrugged his shoulders at the baffled woman. “He might be the only chance Windu has.” Obi-Wan’s head shot up quickly as he felt the force eddy around a four foot boulder near the middle of the rubble. He could do this, he knew how. He just had to have confidence. “Do or do not.” He mumbled as he held his hand out somewhat, focused on the inanimate object. It was just like the games they played in the creche, levitating the balls, this ball was just heavier. The rock shook slightly and came to rest, a small grunt leaving Obi-Wan’s lips.

“It’s too much for me.” He looked up at Liam with the saddest eyes he had ever seen. “It’s been a while since I’ve levitated anything, but perhaps together?” He clutched his younger counterparts hand in his and they both concentrated on the rock. Smaller particles around the boulder started to fall away as it moved just a tad. Obi-Wan opened his eyes with wonder as it started to move further out, to finally roll to the ground in front of them. This left a small four foot wide hole into the cavern. “Get me the med-kit from the transport, I can fit through and find Master Windu.”

“It’s too unstable, Kenobi. I can’t send you in there.” Clat’ha barked.

“You may run the mine, but I don’t report to you. That is a Jedi in there and I will save him.” Obi-Wan ran for the transport and grabbed the kit, heading back for the small breach. “Let me go in and find Master Windu, Obi.” Liam stopped him before he started crawling through the opening. “You’re too large to fit, Liam. I’ll be ok. I promise.” Ben said as he pushed the med kit through the opening and followed suit. “He coughed as he pushed through the small gap into the dark cavern. The air was full of soot and dust from the explosion, making it hard to breath. Reaching into the med-kit he brought out a small glow rod, to light his way. “Master Windu?” He called out, hoping to get a response.

He crawled over a few stray rocks that lay in the path as he swiped at the thick air in front of him to try and see further down the tunnel. The Force tugged at his mind, pushing down towards the unconscious man. Yelling back to his comrades, “I see him! He’s not moving!” Obi-Wan ran to the tall master’s side and gasped at the vision. There was a rock pinning him in place and blood trailing down his bald head. “Master?’ The voice was timid, afraid that if he spoke too loud, he would lose the small thread that was keeping him tethered to the land of the living.

“Qui…Can’t feel him.” Obi-Wan was startled when the voice hoarsely cried out. “I know Master Windu, but we have to get you out of here first. I don’t think he was caught in the rubble. Something else happened.” Kenobi kneeled at the head of the master taking out a bacta bandage to staunch the profuse bleeding from the head wound. “The b…bond is gone.” Ben bowed his head, trying to keep the strong emotions from overwhelming him. He knew this wasn’t the time to break down; he had to be strong for both Mace and Qui-Gon. He concentrated on the small rock holding the master in place, watching it rise just above his body and roll away.

“Can you move your legs, Master?” He looked down, worried about the damage the cave in could have caused to his spine. Mace moved his legs slowly, grateful for small things and turned slowly onto his back, looking up at his small rescuer. “I can, but I think I have a concussion. It’s hard to concentrate on the Force.” Obi-Wan waved the glow stick at the Master’s dirt covered face, seeing one of the eyes fully dilated, confirming his self-diagnoses. “The mine isn’t stable. We need to get you out of here. They are sending help to get us out of here.” He slipped his tiny hand into the rough callused palm of the master before him. “Where is Masterson? He was with Qui-Gon.”

“The transport is gone and so is the guide. Do you think he did something to Qui-Gon?”

“He has him…” he swallowed, so he could continue, “There was something off about Masterson. We both knew he was hiding something, but we didn’t push. I should have…” Mace closed his eyes, his head aching as much as his heart. One mission in and he had already failed to protect his Padawan, what kind of master was he. “Obi-Wan, I need you to get a message…” Mace suddenly couldn’t suppress the deep cough that erupted from his chest. He brought his hand to his mouth, blood spattering his palm. “Rei-Gon Jinn, send message…to council.” The last word pushed out as he lost his struggle with consciousness once more. “I will, Master. Hold on, help is coming.” The young boy bowed his head closer to the master and fed him energy. “Hold on…”


 

Qui-Gon awoke to the sterile white environment of a medical room, his eyes taking a while to adjust to the light settings. “Where am I?” He searched out with the force, only to panic when it didn’t come to him immediately. “You are home, little one, where you belong.” Large hands reached down to lift him up into a sitting position. “I’m sorry for the force collar, but we can’t have any of those interfering Jedi tracking you before we can have our reunion.” Qui-Gon focused on the large man next to the bed. He was impressive in size, and had medium length hair that was pulled back into a short tail. The eyes that looked back at him were crystal blue, the same color of his own. Something was drawing him to this man that was keeping him prisoner. “Who are you?” He said softly.

“I suppose your Master and Mother never thought to tell you about me. I’m Rei-Gon Jinn, your father.” Qui-Gon quickly pushed back away from the tall man, his eyes closing as he remembered Mace’s words about his former apprentice. “I know who you are. Master Windu… He told me what you did to my mother. You aren’t my father; you are just a bastard that forced himself on her!” Just as quickly as the words left his mouth the large hand connected to his cheek, sending him toppling into the nearby wall. “You will not speak to me in that way! I am your father and you will respect me. You are going to learn to be a Jinn, no Jedi is going to raise you!” Qui-Gon wiped the small trickle of blood from his lip, recoiling away from the man claiming to be his father. “Besides, our former Master is no longer in the land of the living. I finally saw to that, damn nuisance.”

“Nooo!” Qui-Gon launched himself at the tall man, tearing and clawing at his body, the blows barely registering against the solid form.

“That’s it, little one. Strike at me in hatred.” Rei-Gon closed his eyes, absorbing the dark emotions rolling off the boy. “You will make a fine apprentice.” Qui-Gon quickly deflated at the words, his misery still rolling off him. “I’ll never be your apprentice.” Flicking his chin up with his finger, Rei-Gon gave an evil smile. “That is what they all say, my son.”

Xanatos opened the door to the room, his eyes taking in the sight before him. “He truly is your son. He’s the spitting image of you.” Qui-Gon watched as the twenty-something man leaned over and whispered something in his ear. “Are you kidding me?” Rei-Gon went into a fury, standing up swiftly. “I will have to take care of this myself. It’s time I had a talk with my former master about taking things that don’t belong to him.” Wrapping his arms around his legs, Qui-Gon started rocking back and forth for comfort. His master was still alive, he would come for him. He had to believe. “Yes, young one. He will come for you and I will be waiting.”

His father fled from the room, leaving him alone with the slender youth. “You aren’t exactly worth all the fuss. I will give you one warning, I don’t share. “Xanatos crouched toward the bed and glared at him. “Try to take my place and there will be an “accident”. Do you understand?”

“I don’t want your place. I want to go home.”

“Your home with those pathetic Jedi? That’s not going to happen either. Maybe when we have your friend with us, you will change your mind.”

“Ben?” Qui-Gon let out a small whimper. “Is that what you call him? It won’t be long until he turns, he wasn’t meant to be a farmer. I can’t believe the Jedi tossed him out!”

“They didn’t! He wanted to come here, they gave him the choice.” Qui-Gon didn’t like this man at all.

“Yes, of course. They wouldn’t throw children to the wolves, it’s all a choice. Just like the choice they gave me. I gave them my childhood and they stranded me on this god forsaken rock!” Xanatos’ eyes turned a subtle shade of yellow as he directed his gaze toward his lover’s son. “One day, they will all regret it, one day I will be more powerful than any of you!” The dark haired man quickly left the room, the door clicking shut leaving Qui-Gon all alone. ~ Master, Ben, please help me. ~ He knew it was pointless, the force wasn’t responding to him, for the first time he felt totally alone and helpless.


 

Mace opened his eyes, seeing through a cloudy red fog. Bacta, he thought. “What had happened, he tried to shake the cobwebs from his head. Then it all came back to him, the explosion, the cutting of his bond to Qui-Gon and then hearing Rei-Gon’s words in his head once again. His panic rose as the medics fought to get him out of the tank. Unable to constrain his panic the dense glass holding the life giving substance gave way and spilled onto the floor, along with a weak Master struggling to get to his feet.

“Master Windu, please calm down!” A medic tried desperately to calm the situation. He knew the psychic trauma, plus the physical were weighing on the Jedi and he needed to understand where he was before he hurt himself or someone else. “Qui-Gon, he’s got him...” The dark-skinned master chocked out before he fell to his knees, still weak from the treatment. “It’s ok Master Windu, we know and I got a message to the Council. Let me help you.” The boy held out his hand and continued to send what energy he could to him.

“Thank you, Obi-Wan. I’m…” He glanced back at the tank and the mess he had made. “I’m sorry; I never do well in Bacta.” In fact Mace Windu hated the stuff. Small confined spaces were something, he had never conquered, which he knew was unbefitting a Jedi, however no one was perfect. Obi-Wan wrapped a robe around the master and led him to a small refresher where he could wash off the remnants of the healing gel. Just outside the fresher Obi-Wan waited.

“Kenobi? You missed your assignment today.” Kenobi turned to see a chubby man, with dull and stained tunics behind him. “We don’t tolerate that here at AgriCorps. I know you were helping Master Windu, but you are no longer a Jedi initiate. You will learn there are consequences for your actions here. You will have no late meal this evening and you will report to the late shift and complete the work that you should have done earlier. Do you understand?” Obi-Wan cowered suddenly questioning the force that led him to help Master Windu. “I…Yes, sir.”

Mace exited the fresher at that moment, clothed once again in his tunic and robes, looking much healthier than the last time Obi-Wan had seen him. “I will beg your pardon, sir, but Obi-Wan is needed on my mission. I have direct contact with the Jedi council and approval to take what resources I need to complete my mission. That will include the services of young Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Mace glared at the man before him, knowing he was just another bully with a data pad, “Please run to the mess hall and get us two meals, young one and meet me in my quarters.” Grumbling, the man turned on his heels and stalked out of the room. “Go Obi, we have much to discuss if we are going to get Qui-Gon back and stop Rei-Gon from hurting more people.” Mace tilted the cleft chin of the youngling towards him and smiled weakly, “Thank you for helping me. We will get your friend back, Obi-Wan.” In his mind he thought, ~ Hold on for me Qui-Gon, we will save you. ~

Chapter Text

Xanatos entered the small room once again, carrying a tray of food. “I’ve been relegated to babysitter.” He mumbled as he threw the tray to a nearby table. “Rei-Gon, I mean your father…” The man flinched at the words, wanting this cub to be anywhere but here. “He wants you to get cleaned up. He has plans for you.”

“I won’t do anything you two want. The Jedi will come for me.” The long-haired man kneeled down towards the boy’s face and snickered under his breath, “I thought you were smarter than that. Those lot will leave you here to rot, but I do hear that we are one step closer to your boyfriend.”

“M...my boyfriend?”

“You know the runt that was assigned to the Corps. My master’s master has plans for him.”

“Obi-Wan is...is just my friend, but he won’t turn any more than I will.” Qui-Gon stood up and stared into the sneering face, unable to keep his eyes off the strange half circle brand on his cheek. “Didn’t your father tell you that it isn’t polite to stare? Oh wait, you didn’t grow up with a father, my bad!” Xanatos sneered and delighted in the rage that was flowing off the young boy.

“Enough.” Qui-Gon turned quickly to the door to see his father towering over them both. “Go get cleaned up, Qui-Gon. It’s almost time to leave this rock.” Rei-Gon tossed some cloths to the young boy and motioned to the fresher door.

“My master, are you sure it is wise to keep the boy around?”

“I am not going to have this conversation with you again Xani. I will not abandon my blood to the Jedi. He will be a powerful ally against them if he can be turned.” Rei-Gon sat on the boy’s unmade bed and wrapped his arms around his svelte apprentice, pulling him down with him. “I can feel your hatred for the boy and in a way, I can understand it. However if you think to harm my young one, I will have to show you the true meaning of pain.” He let his finger slide down Xanatos’ neck, to the opening of his tunic, feeling the man on his lap shivering in anticipation. “Do you understand me, my bright one?”

“Yes, my master. I do not wish to displease you.”

“Of course you don’t. I just received a report and it would seem that my old master is harder to kill then we thought. That whelp of a boy went in and saved him. You said you had him under control.” His fingers lingered at his neck; he traced them around to the back, pulling tightly on his long black hair. “Don’t fail me, Xani or you will be the one that I throw to Sidious. Do you understand me?” Rei-Gon pulled his hair even tighter, his neck exposed to his dark master. “Yes, my lord.” Xanatos gulped slightly as Rei-Gon’s tongue traced his exposed neck, tasting the salty flesh. “Now, go…”


 

Mace and Obi-Wan finished their meal, neither talking but both absorbing the silence. The young boy hadn’t eaten in a long time, but the meal before him held little interest. He was so concerned that he would never see his friend, all because he had a vision and didn’t trust it. Why hadn’t he warned the master and apprentice of the danger ahead? He should have said something.

~ You know it’s your fault. When baldy figures that out, he’s going to make sure you pay for his lost Padawan. Bandomeer isn’t the worst place they could send you. ~ Ben closed his eyes, letting his fork drop to the plate with a clatter.

“Obi-Wan, are you ok?” Mace looked up from his meal, his body still aching and yearning for rest.

“I…”

~ If you tell him your hearing voices, they will know that you are of the dark, that you are truly a freak. ~

“I’m just worried, Master Windu. How are we going to find him?”

~That’s a good boy. Now you are going to make an excuse to leave and I will take you to your friend. Your life for his, it’s a fair trade don’t you think. A failure for a Padawan? ~

Obi-Wan pushed the plate away from him and waited for an answer, “I don’t know. I need to meditate and center myself. The Force will help us.” Mace looked at the lad across the table and still had a hard time understanding how such a talented initiate could end up here. Why had the council accepted his choice and not tried to talk him out of it. It made little sense.

“Very well, Master.” Ben looked down at his torn and soot covered tunics. “I’m going to return to my quarters and clean up, if that’s ok?”

“Of course, once you are finished return here and we will start going over the information. We had to miss something.” Mace observed as the youngling stepped from the table and out the door. He knew that Obi-Wan was under enormous pressure and could feel the concrete shielding that boy was keeping up. “We place too much on our young, the council must see that. This boy was meant to be trained, just as Qui-Gon was. Why do they make him suffer so?” Mace whispered out loud and pushed his own plate away, no longer hungry. “Where are you my Padawan?”

Mace wandered to the nearby balcony and settled upon his knees in quiet meditation. His mind looking inward toward the bond with his new ward, searching for any remnants that he could hold on to or trace, but none were there. Tracing the threads of his inner self, he lightly touched an area that he left barren for years. The bond flared to life as a small sob was wrenched from his lips. ~Does it still hurt you so, my master? Do you still weep for the boy you turned your back on? ~

~ You turned your back on us my foolish one. You chose your dark path. You raped that boy’s mother and left her for dead, and now you want to claim the good that came from it? If there is any decency left in you, please let the boy go. Don’t leave him to the life you lead. ~ Mace made a desperate plea for a sanity that he knew was long gone.

~ That won’t happen. He’s my blood! You will not steal him away from me like you stole everything else. It’s your fault that they turned on me, all of them! ~ The words were full of hatred as they tore through Mace’s mind.

~Take me. I will turn myself over to you; just let Qui-Gon go, please. Amin lava (I yield) ~ Mace thought in an old language that he was teaching Rei-Gon at the time he turned; he hoped the significance wouldn’t be lost to his old student. ~ You yield so beautifully, my master. Amin weera (I agree). We will meet on neutral ground; go to Offworld mine 95-OF. Tenna' ento lye omenta (Until next we meet) ~ Mace sighed and rose slowly from his meditation. He would give his life for Qui-Gon, gladly, however he grieved for the Jedi he would never see him become.


 

Obi-Wan left the AgriCorps complex quickly, following his own lead to Qui-Gon. He didn’t know if he was going crazy or not, but he was determined to follow through with the clue. ~ Good, Good. You will find a speeder in the maintenance bay. Take it and go to mine 95-OF. ~ Obi-Wan slipped into the seat of the landspeeder, his small body barely able to see. He had spent many lessons in flight simulators at the temple, but he had no practical experience. He turned on the transport and took the wheel, sitting up on his knees so that he had a visual. “I’m coming Qui-Gon, please don’t give up hope.”

Just as the boy took off toward the mine, Mace came running out for his own way to the mine. He saw the transport take off, noticing the small red-haired boy at the helm and called out, “Obi-Wan, NO!” Mace looked around the area for his own way to follow and saw a small speeder bike. He hated flying, much less with no protection around him, but he sprang on the bike and took off after the foolish cub. Just as Ben got to the mine, he jumped from the transport and ran into the small entrance. “I’m here, let Qui-Gon go!” Turning his back to the small opening, he turned around slowly, trying to sense if anyone was there. “Hello?” He suddenly felt the need to flee, the fear manifesting so deeply inside that it made it impossible for him to move.

“Afraid little one? You should be.” Just as the boy turned once again, he felt something lock on his neck. “This will make sure you stay obedient.” Xanatos came out of the shadows, laughing as the small boy thrashed on the ground, the force leeched from his very soul. “Hurts, doesn’t it?” Obi-Wan clawed at the collar, his heart feeling like it was beating out of his chest in panic. “Qui…”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. He’s not here at the moment, but he is on his way. He will get to watch as his master is made to kneel at his father’s feet. It will be a delight to watch!” Ben tried desperately to catch his breath as he listened to the obviously mad man. “Why?” were the only words he could get out before he was able to raise back up on his knees. “Why you? You are extremely strong in the force and since the Jedi are too blind to shape that potential, someone else has decided to do it for them. You will be beautiful in the dark.” Xanatos kneeled level with the boy and ran his hands through the reddish tresses. Just then he sneered and looked up at the incoming speeder bike. “Damn it, He was too quick.” ~ Master, Windu is here. ~

~Stall him, we are almost there. And Xanatos do NOT kill him. He’s MINE! ~

Master Windu flew off the speeder, his lightsaber ignited as he landed. “Let him go.” “I’m afraid that won’t happen. My master is on his way with your boy. If you harm me, then he will never be free.”

“That little one means nothing to you. He’s just a farmer now. Let him go. Don’t make him follow your dark path. I remember you, Xanatos. You had such promise.”

“You mean I had promise before the Jedi, before Dooku left me stranded on this rock, left to talk to plants and feed a population that destroyed their own planet?” Mace paced slightly forward, extinguishing his lightsaber, but not putting it back on his belt. “The Jedi didn’t abandon you, the light never left you. You followed the lies of my old Padawan who fed on your anger and fear. Obi-Wan chose to be here, he has a chance at a normal life.”

“There is nothing normal about throwing your left overs away after promising them a different life!” Xanatos grabbed Obi-Wan by the back of his, bringing him to bear in front of him. Mace centered in the force and released his own fears for the children, “I don’t necessarily agree with the procedures for aging out, but we just don’t have enough Master’s for all the children.”

“Is that what you tell yourself to ease your conscience?” Just then Xanatos looked up and smiled wickedly. “My master is here. Give me your saber if you wish to see your Padawan survive.” Mace bowed his head and frowned at Obi-Wan, who was still suffering the after effects of having the force ripped from him. “I’m sorry, Obi-Wan.” Mace held out his lightsaber. Xanatos grabbed the metal cylinder from his hand, “Kneel.” The dark-skinned master paused for a minute before sinking to his knees.

“Oh, how you’ve aged.” Mace heard the deep rumbling voice appear from the shadows. He looked up into the face of his long lost Padawan, trying desperately not to see the young innocent boy that once was. “Time has been kinder to me; I can’t say the same for you. The dark has taken its toll, my lost one.”

Rei-Gon reached behind him, tugging the young boy from behind him. “You see how he kneels before us, Qui-Gon. This is not the man to teach you, this is not a man at all! He told you nothing but lies. Your mother loved me. I never stopped searching for her and didn’t know you existed. I would have never abandoned my blood. Can you say the same for the Jedi? Look at your friend, he’s done everything ever asked of him and yet they sent him away. Is this how you wish to live your life?”

Qui-Gon looked on the scene with confusion. He shook his head from side to side, unable to center himself without the force. “I…I don’t know who to believe anymore.”

“Don’t listen to him, Qui. The Jedi didn’t abandon me. They loved me, they believed in me…I…I didn’t believe in me, or them. I had the chance to tell them about Bruck, to stick up for myself and I chose to run. That is the lesson they wished me to learn and I…failed. That was my true failure.” Ben had tears streaming down his face as realization hit him. “Don’t let them win, don’t let them use me and Master Windu against you.” As the last words came out of Obi-Wan’s mouth, Xanatos slapped the boy across the face, leaving a darkening bruise against his cheek. “You will be silent, or I will silence you.”

“Enough, all of you. This is between my master and me.” Rei-gon approached his old master with some trepidation to his step. This was everything he wanted, everything he prayed for every day. It was surreal to finally have the Jedi under his thumb. Qui-Gon stepped next to Obi-Wan, hoping to put distance between him and Xanatos. “Do you have any idea how many times I’ve dreamed of you just like this, on your knees before your fallen Padawan, giving your allegiance to me!” Rei-Gon’s hair was flowing in the wind as he gazed down into Mace’s calm face. “I may be kneeling before you, but I will never offer my allegiance to the dark, Rei. Let the boys go, and I will come willingly for whatever madness you have in store.”

“Tsk Tsk, did you really believe that I would let go of my son? The other one is going to suffer more than you will ever know. He will suffer until he finds salvation in it. My true master will see to it.” Hearing those words Mace was no longer able to kneel calmly, he quickly flipped up unto his heels, calling his lightsaber and igniting it quickly. “I was hoping that you wouldn’t just lie dead before my feet.” Rei-Gon ignited his own blade, brightening the area with its blood red light. Xanatos started to make a step toward his master, only to be stopped, “This is not your fight, my own.” Xanatos snarled slightly and stepped closer to the children. “You will kneel to the dark in the end.” Rei-Gon’s voice deepened to a bellow.

Mace was totally unprepared for the crashing tide of angry despair that suddenly overwhelmed his shields. “You learned what you needed to become Knight, but that does not mean I taught you all a master knows. You will make a mistake.” Rei-Gon blinked with surprise as the older Master advanced without hesitating, bringing his lightsaber sweeping up in a swift slash to his torso. “And when you make it…I will be there.” Rei-Gon shoved the wild surge of righteous fury and darkness into his lunge, tangling his blade in a shower of red and purple sparks as his eyes turned into ice-cold narrow slits. Mace ducked and directed a second vicious blow to Rei-Gon’s thigh, having to scramble and roll to parry a reversal, leaping up onto his feet behind his slightly taller opponent. Rei-Gon narrowed his eyes at his old master as he leaped to his feet once again.

“You fight with anger, master. How…Un-Jedi like.” He approached the man once again, the red light making his face glow like a monster from an old holo-vid. With Mace on the defensive, Rei-Gon parried, the force of the blows rattling his very teeth. More power was flowing through them both. Mace could feel the force slipping from his control, the more his anger took control. He held his ground, intimately knowing his old Padawan’s fighting style. He held his ground, even as the battle continued to escalate. “You are closer to the dark than you realize.” The dark master chuckled as their blades tangled once more.

Mace tried to settle himself in the force, tried to regain his concentration but every emotion he ever felt towards his old apprentice were surging through him. Barely evading a thrust that could have impaled him, he rolled to the ground leaping to his feet and dancing away from Rei-Gon’s renewed attack. He dove back into his rage as it energized him, driving forward viciously, pushing Rei-Gon back against the speeder. He could sense the fear radiating off the young boys and the anger from the dark apprentice that held them. He whipped his body around faster than he thought, his body screaming in protest after the injuries sustained earlier. He was anticipating most of Rei-Gon’s blows and intercepting them before they were even focused towards him. As the two figures continued to combat and parry back and forth, Mace waited for his moment. There it was! The opening was a tiniest flicker of vulnerability, but he was looking for it and knew it was there. He shot his fist forward and cracked it viciously against his old student’s chin, snapping his head back with a hard thrust.

As if the moment were in slow motion, Xanatos saw the move for what it was the beginning of the end. He quickly pulled a blaster from behind his robe and aimed it at the Jedi Master.

“Nooo!” Obi-Wan saw the blaster and acted quickly, throwing his body in front of the line of fire. As the shot fired from the blaster, the young boy gasped in pain as it struck him in the lower abdomen. Qui-Gon moved from his spot, pushing Xanatos from the side and putting him off balance. The long haired apprentice fell over onto the ground, Qui-Gon reaching desperately for the blaster. As they struggled, Mace drove the white hot blade against the exact center of the broad chest in front of him, seeing the regret and fire leave his child’s eyes. “My son, forgive me…”

Rei-Gon coughed as the blade left his chest. “You…did this to me. You will forever have to live with…that.” His body fell to the ground, Mace quickly turning his attention back to the boys.

Qui-Gon was holding the blaster point blank at Xanatos, his fingers trembling with rage, “You killed him…You…deserve to die.”

“Padawan, don’t do this. Obi still breathes; don’t let him lead you down the same path as your father.” Mace knelt by the small boy, his face pale and white from the shock of the blaster bolt. “We need to get him back to the center for medical attention.” Qui-Gon turned and looked at his friend lying still on the ground, his concentration no longer on Xanatos. As he turned his attention to his master, he lowered the blaster aimed at him. Seizing the moment, he turned quickly and launched himself into the transport. Qui-Gon started to follow him when Mace called out, “Let him go, Qui. We can find him another day; we need to concentrate on saving Obi-Wan now.”

Mace supported the small boy and headed for the speeder bike, placing the unconscious boy between him and Qui-Gon they sped off for the medical facilities, he just hoped they weren’t too late. Qui-Gon wrapped his arms around the smaller body, feeling his life force hang on by a small thread. “Stay with me, Ben. Don’t leave me.” He whispered from just behind his ear. “Don’t let them win…” Qui-Gon repeated his own words back to him.

Chapter Text

Mace opened his weary eyes, rubbing his hands delicately over his face to try to focus on the moment. Over the years he had been through numerous missions, this one however was testing his endurance. He gazed over into the chair next to him, his Padawan still massaging his neck where the force collar had been. “It will take a few days to forget the weight of it.” Mace ghosted his fingers over the abrasions, healing them somewhat through the force.

“Don’t master, I can feel how tired you are. They will heal on their own.” Qui-Gon’s voice lacked the life he was used to. Mace wanted to soothe all the aches, but he knew it was only the beginning of his life as a Jedi. He had lost so much in the few days on this god forsaken planet, his innocence, his father and now perhaps his only friend.

Just as he ran his hands through the long bronze mane, they both glanced up as alarms began going off and healers ran into Obi-Wan’s treatment room. “Bring the crash cart, we’re losing him!” They both heard someone yell from inside. Qui-Gon curled into himself as he heard those words and Mace could sit idle no longer. He seized the boy and drew him over the chair into his lap, embracing him tightly. “Trust in the force, little one.”

“How do I trust in something that keeps taking everything I care about?” Mace rocked the boy slightly, feeling the tears soaking his tunics. “Faith is the toughest to keep in our darkest moments, I know.” Qui-Gon nodded his head as he reached out through the force towards his friend. At first he couldn’t feel the life force at all and he started to pull away and panic in his master’s arms. “Shh, he’s still with us. Close your eyes and concentrate just a little more.” He took a deep breath and tried to focus on his center like his mother had taught him, reaching out once more to the young boy in the other room.

Just when he was about to give up hope, he sensed it, a weak feeling of regret that wrapped around his body. “Nooo!” Qui-Gon bolted from his master and ran into Obi-Wan’s room. The healers tried to catch him before he entered and yelled at him to stop, but he needed to see his friend. He needed to see his Ben. As he looked around the room at all the machines and healers, he saw the too tiny form laying on a large white gurney. He had never thought of him as petite, but there was no other way to explain the scene before him.

The healers were pushing on his chest as they counted, staring down at both him and Obi-Wan. “You need to let us work.” The healer pushing on Obi-Wans chest said firmly. Qui-Gon moved to the other side of the gurney and gently took Ben’s fingertips in his hand. “I can’t let him go without a friend.” The healer had seen many people die in the last months, but this almost broke him and he just nodded.

“We have a rhythm again, but his organs are starting to shut down. If we can’t get him stable enough for the Bacta tank…”

“Do you hear that Ben. We need you to hold on so we can save you. I…need…you.” He hung his head and started to snivel. The healer looked at the monitors and smiled as the heartbeat strengthened and motioned for the others to prepare the bacta tank. One of the healers stood next to Qui-Gon, “You need to let go now. He’s stable enough for the tank. Go back out to your master, little one. We will allow you back in once he’s settled inside.” Qui-Gon looked up at Ben’s pale white face and brushed a strand of hair from his face. ~ Get better my friend, we have many adventures ahead of us. ~

Mace was standing in the doorway, watching as the scene played out, his arms once again opening wide for his Padawan. Qui-Gon ran into them, as if they could save him from anything. “We almost lost him…”

“He’s going to be ok, I can feel it now. It’s ok to let go now, my own.” Mace felt his muscles relax and small sobs let loose from the trembling form in his arms.

One of the healers nodded to the dark-skinned master as he carried the boy back out to the waiting room. “Sleep.” Mace commanded softly to the small bundle now sitting on his lap. “Not…sleepy.” He heard the words choked out through another sob. As the last word left his mouth, the boy yawned and cuddle up closer to his master’s chest letting sleep take him over.

A few hours later, Mace felt someone shake him gently. “Master Windu?” He opened his eyes instantly seeing Liam standing over him. “He’s stable and healing in the tank. He’ll be in there for at least a day they say. That can’t be a comfortable way to sleep.” He pointed down at the boy that was still clinging to his chest, drool dribbling down his chin onto Mace’s tunic. “Probably not, but he needed it.”

“Why don’t you go back to your quarters? I will have the healers alert you if anything happens.”

“Thank you Liam. I think that’s a good idea. I still need to contact the council and...” Mace thought about the mission, Rei-Gon and Xanatos. There was so much he needed to take care of now that Obi-Wan was in good hands.

“The Council has already been contacted, Master. They made arrangements for the body left at the mine and asked that you contact them when you were able.”

“Of course, thank you again Liam.” Supporting the weight of the boy in his arms, he stood up and headed for their quarters. He had a few words for the council about young Obi-Wan and he would make sure they listened. Mace slipped out of the fresher, feeling much better for a long hot shower and new tunics. He glimpsed over on the sleep couch and saw Qui-Gon’s chest rising and falling slowly as he slept serenely. The poor boy had been through so much and with hardly any rest; he would make sure he got that breather before things got hectic once again. He reinforced the sleep command, pushing any bad dreams that might encroach upon the boys slumber. “No dreams today, little one.” Mace peeped back at the sleeping boy one last time before stepping into the other room and seeing the com panel light flashing. “Guess I’m not the only one eager to speak.” Mace went over to the panel and accepted the incoming transmission. He shook his head from side to side as he saw the small grandmaster appear. “Master Yoda.”

“Master Windu, live Obi-Wan does?”

“He is stable my master, but it’s still touchy.”

“Shame this is. Meant to be a Jedi he was, but see it he needed to.”

“You knew that this was going to happen. You sent that little boy into danger!”

“Knew he was meant to take this path, I did. Foresee the great danger that he would be in, I did not.” Yoda’s ears lowered in sadness.

“How could you and the council do that to our younglings? He questioned not only himself but he thought he was a failure. You knew about the bullying, you knew it all along didn’t you. You let him suffer!” Mace felt the rage start to build in his body.

“Calm you will remain and remember to who you speak, you will.” Yoda’s small form flickered in the transmission as he raised his gimmer stick.

“Calm I will not remain, when you treat a small boy with no human regard. That little boy was being courted by the dark because of the position you and the council put him in. How do you justify that, how do you LIVE with that? He almost gave his life for me and my apprentice because he felt his life meant less than ours...” Mace was seething at the small troll.

“Apprentice he is not yet. Give him hope you shouldn’t. Still pending your mission report we are.” Yoda tried to deflect to a different subject. “Return you will. Kenobi you shall bring home.” Mace watched as the diminutive form shut off the transmission. “Why you…Short…Green…Meddling…” Mace turned to punch at the wall when he looked up to see Qui-Gon gaping at him.

“Mas..tah?” The sleepiness was still in his voice. “Sorry for waking you, Qui. I…Was just having a “discussion” with Master Yoda.”

“If that is a discussion, I would hate to see what an argument sounded like.” Mace was amazed when the child before him genuinely smiled at him. “He’s going to be ok. I can feel it in the force.”

Mace closed his eyes for a moment and reached out to grasp his center again. “I can feel it too, young one. Once he’s out of the tank, we will be heading back to Coruscant. The council has summoned all three of us.”

“Master? Does that mean Obi can come back? Did we complete our mission? Will…I…”

“I have a few words to give the council about Obi-Wan, but for the time being he’s just being summoned to speak before them. Our mission wasn’t exactly cut and dry, Qui, however; you acted like a Jedi at every step and I would be honored to call you a brother in arms. I will train you, Qui-Gon. Don’t doubt yourself now.” Qui-Gon nodded and turned back to his room. “I believe in us, Master.” He disappeared into his room leaving Mace wondering at everything that had happened in a short span of time. ~ Please don’t take him away from me ~ he released his fear into the Force, turning to prepare for their departure.

Chapter Text

 

The next day Mace and Qui-Gon entered Obi-Wan’s healing quarters, to see many people gathered around the now healing boy. His face was no longer pale white and had the pink tinge of embarrassment from so much of attention. As the two Jedi strode into the room, Obi-Wan looked up from the bed to smile beautifully at the young Jedi. “Qui!” 

“Ben!” Qui-gon looked over at his master for approval before launching himself at the bed and hugging the smaller boy. “I’m so glad you’re ok. I was so worried.” 

“M’ok. I was just so worried for you and Master Windu. I spose your mission is over now and you’ll be going back to the…temple?” Obi-Wan’s voice took a sad tone and Mace quickly noticed. “Yes, we will be heading back to the temple later today, however you will be accompanying us, young Obi-Wan. Are you up for travelling?” 

“Ye..Yes, master, but why?” 

“The council wishes to speak to you and have asked us to bring you before them.”

“I see. I suppose I do have a few things I wish to tell them. Do you think it too late?” 

“It’s never too late for second chances in my opinion, young one.” Mace gathered both boys into a tight embrace, sending them both comfort through the force. The middle-aged master smiled as he felt the force embrace them. He knew they all had battles ahead, but the force was almost singing with the rightness of this union. “Shall we get prepared to leave?” 

They all three turned around as they heard a small cough from the doorway. “Excuse me, but…I just wanted to say goodbye. I’m glad that you are doing better, Obi-Wan and I’m sorry that your initial stay with us was less than ordinary. We look forward to when you return, I would like to count you among my friends.” Liam reached out and offered a small bow to the younger boy still resting in the oversized medical bed. “I…If I return, I would be honored to count myself among your friends, Liam. I’m going to try to follow the force this time, however, which means I may not be back.” Liam nodded his head, his eyes full of sadness for a friendship lost. “May the Force be with you, Obi-Wan. You will make a wonderful Jedi Knight one day.” 

“And may the force be with you as well Liam; I’ll never forget you, no matter what happens.” Obi-Wan hopped out of the bed and wrapped his arms around the taller boy; Liam froze for a moment before returning the embrace fully. This wasn’t the AgriCorps way, they didn’t get attached, but like most, they couldn’t resist the charming boy with the coppery hair. 

Two days later the ship pulled out of hyperspace just above the massive planet of Coruscant. Mace had spent the last few days writing and prepping a report for the council about everything that took place on Bandomeer. He had to dig deep inside himself and release the emotions that killing Rei-Gon instilled in the Master. He knew that the kill was not in anger but defense. Defense of himself and most of all to keep two little boys from the darkness that Rei-Gon radiated. He spent little time with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, allowing the boys to mend from the physical and emotional scars that this mission had left. They fairly glowed in each other’s presence; there was something within the force that said they were meant to be together. They were meant to have some purpose in each other’s lives. Mace closed his eyes and reached out in the force to try to pinpoint exactly which way the force was pulling them, but abruptly dropped out of his meditation by two giggling voices. “Sorry to disturb you, Master Mace, but we’ve arrived. The council has given us clearance to land and we have been summoned immediately to the council chambers.” Qui-Gon stood in front of Obi-Wan who peeked out curiously around the boy’s robes, as if his Padawan was his only protector. It was quite endearing. “Very well, Padawan. If you and your shadow would get read, we will disembark and meet the council all together. This won’t be easy for either of you, but please know that I will fight for you both.” 

Qui-Gon nodded and pulled his friend up next to him. “What about Obi-Wan, will they let him go back to the creche, or will the master’s all shun him because he left the order?” 

Mace closed his eyes and smiled, “I have a few tricks up my sleeve, little one. I sent out a transmission to someone who I’m hoping will be our ally where you are concerned, Obi. Don’t lose hope.” Mace ruffled both boys hair and then let his hands run through the ends of Qui-Gon’s long hair. “Hopefully soon this will be gone and a braid will be in its place. Let us go.” 


 

 All three figures strode done the almost barren halls of the Jedi Temple. Very few were out at this time of night, except for those species that were nocturnal. It was very unusual for the full Council to convene at this late hour, so Mace knew this was going to be a highly charged meeting. He looked back to this left and saw both boys walking two steps back and to the left and smiled at the thought. If there was no rule against training two padawans, he would take them both under his wing. He still didn’t understand why Yoda had let such a talented initiate go without a fight.  As they approached the council doors, the padawan on duty nodded, “They are ready for you.” She gave a forced smile and waved her hand to open the doors. 

“Eventful mission, you two have had. Read report we did.” Yoda sat straight in his chair with the rest of the council in attendance. “Tell us now, why think we should grant training to young Qui-Gon Jinn when caught and captured by rogue Jedi he was..” 

Mace stood before the council, placing his hands inside his robe as he suppressed his annoyance with the old grandmaster. “Qui-Gon Jinn proved himself worthy every step of the way in this mission. Yes he was captured by Rei-Gon and Xanatos but he never once gave in to their darkness. He went without the force, which drives many Jedi insane and still managed to keep his wits about him and keep himself, Obi-Wan and I alive. He has had no formal training, except for what his mother gave him. Yet, he was sought by the dark. Do you really want to release him and take the chance that they will try again? They were not alone my masters.” Mace turned and faced the other members of the council, pleading with each one of them to see. 

“Agree with you, we do. Padawan Jinn conducted himself well in this situation. Argue with you, we do not with your decision to train him. Granted your petition it is.” Mace almost snorted when he realized this was already decided before they ever entered the room. “Master I also bring with us, AgriCorp’s newest member, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You have the details in our report on his actions during our mission. It is my hope that you will re-instate him to initiate and allow him to continue on the road that he was prior to leaving the temple. If it were not for his bravery and self-sacrifice I would not be alive today. “ 

Yoda lowered his ears and looked on with sadness to the boy in question. “Leave he did. Not of our choice it was. Left he did to run away, then face the consequences of his fighting with young Bruck Chun. In the habit of letting his emotions guide him, he is, and dangerous trait this is for a Jedi, hmm?” 

“Master with all due respect, that is a load of bantha poodoo. He left because the council turned a blind eye to bullies that should be the ones that aren’t fit to be Jedi. He left because he felt that no one would believe him or believe IN HIM. You left him alone, at nine years old. They are Jedi, but they are still children with fears, insecurities and feelings. You should have nurtured him, instead of letting him flounder along the way. If anyone has needed to apologize and ask him forgiveness it is this council and directly that is you Master Yoda. You LET this child down, and it almost cost him his very soul. You left him to drown in his own emotions and the darkness courted him. If you will not allow him to return to the creche, then I will find him a master that will take him. He will be a great Jedi one day!” Mace stared down each and every one of them, his anger almost palpable through the force. He knew he should let it go, but they were supposed to defend the weak and as children of the creche, they still needed protection. 

“Enough that is. Release your anger, you will. Rash we were perhaps, in our decision involving your padawan.”  Yoda stood from his chair, leaning on his gimmer stick to approach the now furious master. 

“You will not use my padawan to black mail me to stay silent. Obi-Wan deserves to be heard in this matter.” 

“Kenobi, speak you may.” Yoda turned toward the boy who was almost in tears as they discussed him as if he weren’t even present.

“Masters.” Obi-Wan went to the center of the room and bowed as was protocol. “I do not mean to bring anger and dissension to the Jedi over my future. When you had brought me into these chambers last time, I was not the same person. I had put up with years of abuse, both physical and emotional by the hands of a few of my crechemates. I had watched and listened as they picked on my friends and even went so far as to threaten their death if we told on them.” Obi-Wan wanted to look down upon the floor but forced himself to eye each and every master. He finally rested his eyes on Yoda. “Master Yoda, I now realize that you were waiting. You knew this whole time and you were waiting for me to come forward and stand up for myself. I should be upset that you let those boys torture myself and my friends but part of me understands. How can I stand up for the weak if I can’t even stand up for myself? You gave me the choice to take my punishment and continue or run away and I made the wrong choice. When I was on Bandomeer I realized that because of that fear I had let the darkness in. I was hearing voices and those voices were that of Xanatos Du Crion, a former rejected AgriCorps member. My life could have followed his if I had continued down the path but I was lucky to find solace in friendship with Master Windu and his Padawan, Qui-Gon Jinn. Please don’t tear yourselves apart for me. I just ask that you hear me now and give me a second chance. I can stand up for myself; I can stand up for others. I was meant to be a Jedi.” The boy finally let his eyes lower to the floor as he waited their judgement. 

“Return to the creche we cannot allow. Choice to leave you made and set a precedent it could.” Yoda glanced to the rest of the members as they communicated silently.


‘Master Windu. Your suggestion that he find a master would be the best option for young Obi-Wan, but as young as he is, I’m not sure of any masters that would step forward to sponsor him.” Ki-Adi-Mundi frowned sadly; he always thought Obi-Wan was meant to be one of them. He hated that they didn’t intervene before it got past the point of no return. 

Just as Mace was about to step forward and speak, the doors once again opened and out stepped a tall figure that was still hooded under the large cloak. “How dare you interrupt this session of council?” Mundi bellowed out at the figure that approached the trio. Just as the figure stood next to Mace, he reached out and lowered his hood to reveal a hardened face that was much older than Mace’s. Obi-Wan looked up at the tall man, who had a beard of silver and hair to match. “Pardon me, my masters. I was summoned by Master Windu and led to believe that he needed my help.” 

“Needed in this meeting, you are not Master Dooku…” Yoda stared down the older man wondering just when he lost control of the situation. 

Dooku gave his old padawan a smile that Mace knew meant he was about to give the council a fit. “I take Initiate Obi-Wan Kenobi as my Padawan Learner…” 

Obi turned around, his gaze locking with the older man. He was so tall and looked much older than Master Windu. He had heard stories about Master Dooku and how he now only took on missions that involved the outer rim. He never ventured back to the temple unless things were dire or directly commanded by the council. The rumors were that he had his own way of doing things. Could he live that way? Could he, at nine years old adopt the transient lifestyle that would keep him from his friends and the temple for years at a time? “I accept, my master.” Obi immediately bowed to the older man and smiled sadly at Qui-Gon. This was his only chance and he would miss his friend, but he would be a Jedi…

Chapter Text

“Grant us with your presence after absence of years, and bow to you we are supposed to now?” Yoda knew he was being irrational, but he had summoned his former padawan back to the temple for years, without any success. Jedi Master Dooku raised his left eyebrow at the troll before him. He adored his old master, but they didn’t see eye to eye on much anymore. It wasn’t the only reason for his absenteeism, but it was one of the contributing factors. “I am sorry that my company is not pleasing to you my master. My old padawan sent me a communication along with an interesting tale to go along with it. He related a story of a young promising boy that the council saw fit to abandon when he was in his greatest need. I know that hindsight is 20/20 but you and this council were terribly out of line.”

The tall bearded man looked down at Obi-Wan and placed his hands on the young man’s shoulders in full support. “If you do not allow my petition you will find…” He paused for a moment and glanced at Mace, knowing his old apprentice would hate that he was defying the council once more. “I will bring my petition to the masses and let them decide if the council has acted in the best interest of its own. You are so worried about precedent, how would the upcoming padawans and even the newest of knights feel knowing you abandoned a nine year old boy to the darkness?”

“You are out of line!”

“Insolent foolish, padawan of mine…”

“How dare you question this council’s treatment of its children? We never meant...”

“Grant my petition! For once, follow not just the force, but your sense of right and wrong. This is the right thing for Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Qui-Gon couldn’t keep his eyes off the man before him. He couldn’t believe how this stranger burst in and saved his friend. He was so thankful that Obi-Wan wouldn’t have to go back to the god forsaken planet. ~That my young padawan is the master of your master, Jedi Master Jard Dooku~ Qui-Gon held his smile as he continued to watch the events play out before him.

The council settled into a quiet conversation with themselves as a few stared at the elder man before them. “Treat this council with more respect you should. Treat your old master with respect I am certain. Grant your petition we will. One condition there will be.” Yoda stepped down from his chair, approaching the pair. “Outer rim missions you can continue, but home you must come. Boy will need classes and company of other padawans.”

Jard glanced at each and every one of the council and sighed to himself. He knew that granting this favor to his old padawan would change his life, but he hated the temple life. “Very well, I will do what I must for the well-being of this boy.” His words were meant as a jab, and they all knew it. Before he would let the council give him another lecture on respect, he bowed, “If we are dismissed, I would like time to speak with my new padawan and begin the ritual of taking.”

“Excused you both are.” Yoda turned and walked slowly from the room, his ears drooping slightly as the unifying force swirled around him. “Keep an eye on them we must,” Yoda whispered to Ki-Adi-Mundi, the future is unsettled. As the doors to the council chambers closed behind the two pairs, both older gentleman turned toward each other and nodded. “It has been too long Mace.”

“It’s only been five years, Jard, I know you hate to be under the councils thumb, but you do have people in temple that care and miss you.” His old padawan lowered his eyes, Jard looking on him like the boy he once used to be. “I know my padawan. I missed you too. I won’t promise that taking Obi-Wan will have me back in temple much more, but we will do our best.” Jard lowered himself down to Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon’s level and smiled at the two boys. “I can feel the bond between you two. How unusual. You will now always be padawan brothers.”

“Master Dooku, it is a pleasure to meet my master’s master. Please take good care of Obi-Wan.” Qui-Gon turned a few shades of pink as he talked to the rugged older man. “He’s…my friend.” Mace looked on and hid the smile that wanted to break out. Taking the young man’s hand into his he looked him straight in the eyes.

“You have my word that no harm shall come to your friend if I can help it. If I remember correctly, your master always came home, mostly in one piece.” He winked at the child and saw them both smile. “We both have things we must do, but would you join us for dinner later tonight, my master?” Mace pulled Qui-Gon towards him, running his hands through his longer locks of bronze hair.

“Of course, I have a lovely bottle of wine that I’ve been saving for a special occasion.”

“Wine my master?”

“Yes, wine. I will turn you into a sophisticated man of the galaxy one day, my former padawan.” Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon chuckled as they watched the older gentlemen interact. “Until tonight, Master Windu.”

“2000 hours, in my quarters then, Master Dooku.” Mace turned to Qui-Gon and ushered the boy out of the room towards their quarters.

Dooku watched the two leave and closed his eyes for a moment. He wasn’t sure what he had gotten himself into, but he had listened to Mace’s plea and the force’s insistence. Looking around the room, he saw a wooden bench in the corner and led the petite boy to its surface. “Please Obi-Wan, take a seat.” He motioned to the child standing behind him. He observed as the lad carefully took a seat, his focus on the hands in his lap. He could feel the emotions rolling off the boy as if they were his own; Fear, apprehension and most of all, uncertainty. “I know that this all happened so suddenly. You have been through quite a bit in a short time for someone of your age. If things had been different you would still have several years in the creche before you were chosen. First and foremost, this does not make you damaged, this does not define you. Do you understand my padawan?”

Obi-wan fidgeted slightly under the gaze of his new master. “Yes, Master…”

“I am not an easy man to live with, you can ask Master Windu sometime, but I will promise you that you will become a Knight of our order. I will push you past what you think is fair, especially when you become older and start to move out on your own. I won’t lie to you, young one; I truly thought my time training padawans was over. I’ve been on my own in the outer skirts of society for so long, perhaps it was time to come back home.” Dooku lowered himself to his knees in front of the bewildered adolescent. “We will have to rely on each other, which is something I am no longer used to, if I forget that you will have to tell me. Can you do this for me, Obi-Wan?”

Looking up from his boots, he finally made contact with the deep brown eyes that seemed to look at his very soul. “I can and will. Thank you for…well thank you for taking a chance on me. I will try not to disrupt your world too much.”

The deep laugh that rang through the hollow room startled him slightly. “My dear boy, this is the very definition of having a padawan in your life. You will learn one day, when you are a master, that those disruptions are the greatest moments in your life.” The smile that parted the bearded lips was welcoming; this was not the hard man that he had heard stories about in the creche. “Now, I’m almost positive they haven’t kicked me out of my old rooms. Shall we get settled?” Dooku held his hand, palm up towards the boy, letting him make the next move. A shy smile parted his lips as he placed his small hand in the older man’s.

Dooku’s hand was almost double the size, but one day that would change and he would look back on this moment with pride. He could still remember that first time that he took Mace’s hand in his. Mace was a confident boy that slipped his hand against his master’s and commented loudly that perhaps his master needed some sun, as he compared the difference between the bronzed skin of his hand and the pale whiteness of the older man. Dooku reached out with the force and sent assurance to the young boy, pulling him to his feet. “Time for a proper haircut, I do think. Let us be on our way, my padawan.”

Dooku rose to his feet and started to walk through the temple halls, the boy following two steps behind and to the right. Stopping in the middle of an empty hall, he turned towards Obi-Wan, his face showing no emotion as he spoke. “Our first lesson, my young ward. What side is my saber attached?” Obi-Wan’s eyebrows scrunched up as he tried to figure out what he had done wrong. “It’s on your right side, master.” Just as the answer poured from his mouth, he suddenly realized his mistake. “I’m sorry…I should have been on your left side.”

“That is correct.” Obi-wan looked miserably at his feet once more. Dooku cursed the council for destroying this young boy’s confidence in himself. “There is no shame in making a mistake, young one. It is by our mistakes that we live and learn. Now that you know, you can correct it.” Dooku didn’t wait for a response as he continued down the corridor to their quarters, his new padawan two steps and to the left, following dutifully.


 

The door to their quarter’s opened up and the lights came on to illuminate the baron room. “It has been a long few weeks, but you are now officially my padawan.” Mace turned to the boy and smiled, his arms opening wide in welcome. Qui-Gon quickly walked into the embrace and buried himself in his master’s dark robes. His emotions quickly welled up in him and tears started to run down his cheeks. “I’m…s-s-sorry.”

“Oh, my Qui-Gon, there is nothing to be sorry for. Did your mother teach you the Jedi code?” Mace wrapped his arms around his crying padawan tightly and moved them over to the sofa, sitting awkwardly with the large boy on his lap. He thought silently to himself that his padawan would be much too tall to do this a great deal longer. The dark haired boy just nodded his head up and down to the question, his tears making it difficult to speak. “There is no emotion, there is peace. They are lovely words, are they not, but they are not realistic. We are not droids, we cannot avoid all emotion my young one. It is what we do with our emotions that matter. We feel anger, fear, love and more.” Mace could feel the force pressing him to continue. He wasn’t ready to discuss Rei-Gon’s death; he hadn’t even processed it for himself. “When we were on Bandomeer and Xanatos had you and Obi-Wan, I was afraid. That’s really not true, I was petrified. I was also angry.

“You were?”

“Of course I was. I am flesh and blood, my dear padawan. But I had to put my feelings to the side and do my duty as both Jedi and your master. I was angry at your father, my old padawan, but I didn’t strike out in hatred. To do so would lead me down a very dark path.”

“When I thought…When I thought Ben was going to die, I…hated them both. I hated Xanatos and m-my f-father.” Qui-Gon swallowed, the shame and misery radiating off him made Mace nauseated. “I understand. Do you hate him now?” The cerulean eyes looked up into his as the tears continued to streak down his cheeks. “No, I miss him, I feel sorry for them. How can I miss someone that was so horrible? What is wrong with…me…”

He once again buried himself in his master’s embrace as he wept. “Oh, my precious boy, there is nothing wrong with you, other than you have a heart of gold. The living force is such a strong part of you that it is hard not to feel empathy towards every living thing. But more so, you are a part of him. No matter what he did in life, he was your father and you are only human.” Mace continued to rock the boy back and forth, “Let it all out, little one. Don’t hold it in. Release it all to the force, only then will you be able to feel peace. That is what the code means; I honestly always thought it should read, even in emotion, there is peace.”

They sat together on the sofa, both embracing and neither letting go as they rested in each other’s aura. Mace glanced at the time and noticed that his small charge’s breathing had evened out and the sobs had dispersed. He leaned back to get a look at his face and noticed how young he appeared when slumbering. “You’ve been through so much, and I fear this will be only the beginning, but you are strong. The force will always be there, even when I can’t be.” Mace whispered to no one in particular, his thoughts swirling with his own emotions. He desperately needed to center himself in meditation. It had been too long. They had a few more hours before Jard would join them for dinner; he decided to let the boy sleep just a bit longer. Letting out a small sigh, he made them both more comfortable and settled into meditation.


 

The doors slid open to allow both Master and apprentice to enter the stale quarters. “Lights 75%” Dooku bellowed. “I would say that our quarters need a makeover, but we won’t be here long enough to enjoy it.” He moved quickly to remove his cloak and hung it on a nearby hook and headed into the kitchen to make a pot of tea, probably the only thing that was still digestible in the place. “Would you like a cup of…” The older man turned around quickly, noticing that his padawan was no longer there. “Obi-Wan?”

Dooku walked back into the living quarters and noticed the boy was still standing still in the doorway. “You only have two choices, my padawan. You can either choose to enter or flee.”

“I’m sorry.” He moved quickly inside, still looking entirely too lost.

“We really must find an alternative to that word. I think you’ve embraced it enough.”

“I’m s…” Obi-Wan felt his cheeks warm with embarrassment. “I regret my actions and will strive to do better, master.” Dooku laughed to himself, he could see the sassy boy just beneath the outside exterior, and he just had to coax it out a bit more.

“Cheeky, my young boy, I can see you will make a fine diplomat someday.” He finally felt the boy relax a bit and proceeded to the kitchen once more. “Do you like tea?”

“To not like tea would be uncivilized; at least that’s what Master Aronia said in the creche.” Obi-Wan responded.

“Oh I do agree with my fellow master. Did you know that you can learn much about a culture, merely by what they eat and drink? On the outer rim there are at least three cultures that will not even begin any sort of conversation with you until you have engaged in first tea. It’s all very elaborate.” He continued the conversation as he prepared two cups. He knew he needed to get the boy to relax around him, but this was a start. “Why don’t you take a seat at the table and I will bring our tea out.”
A few minutes later, he came into the room and saw the boy sitting at the table, as straight as an arrow. “Obi-Wan, we are in our quarters. There is no reason to be on alert. This is our haven and sometimes our only time to relax.” He placed the tea cup in front of the boy and rested a hand on his shoulder, sending a warm pulse through the force towards him. Sitting across from him, they both sipped their tea in silence, just enjoying the peacefulness of the temple around them. After about fifteen minutes, both cups empty, Dooku spoke up once again. “Obi-Wan please go into the fresher and in the upper most drawer of the vanity you will notice a small black bag. Can you please grab that bag and a towel for me, please?”

“Of course master.” He ran into the bathroom and pulled the dusty bag from the drawer. It looked like it hadn’t been touched in quite some time; he wondered what it was before he returned to his new master. “Here you go, master.”

“Thank you my padawan. Please kneel with your back to me.” Obi-Wan honored his master’s request and fell quickly to his knees. “I have not used this in almost twenty years. In fact I thought to never use it again. It was passed along to me by my master.” He pulled out a pair of silver sheers and smiled at the reflection in the silver.

“Master Yoda?” he asked softly.

“That is correct. He swore after me, that he was done training young fools and presented this to me. I had thought about giving it to Mace, but something held me back, perhaps even then I knew I wasn’t quite done.” He continued to talk as he started on his task of shoring up the fiery red locks of hair. “The padawan cut, while not exactly flattering, shows that you have indeed taken the next step on your path to knighthood.”

Obi-Wan watched as the hair continued to fall around him, in awe that he found a master, that he would be a Jedi. He reached out with the force, feeling his friend, Qui-Gon, relaxed and in a deep sleep. He was grateful that Qui-Gon was unharmed and had been accepted by the council. He only wished that they had more time to become friends, it wouldn’t be long and they would be separated, only to meet on few occasions. Would the older boy miss him? He thought to himself as he felt a longer piece of hair by his ear tugged on.

“Keep your mind on the here and now, young padawan.” Dooku felt his sadness and knew the cause. Being a Jedi was not an easy life, he would do his best to make sure that the two boys kept in touch. “Perhaps you will not get to see him every day, but you can write as our duty allows. I promise this is not the end, but only the beginning.” Turning the boy around, he pulled him up to his feet and smiled. “Now you look the proper padawan, minus one minor detail.” He took the sheers to his own hair and snipped a small portion from the back. “There is a small matter of braid. As we bind together, so too shall we grow together.” Taking the silver hair and fusing it to a longer plait behind Obi-Wan’s ear he began to brush it smooth into three sections. “We are master, apprentice and the force, bound together forever.” Dooku smiled as he quickly plaited the small braid and brought it to his lips in the old ritual. After applying a small kiss to the end, he grabbed a small green bead from the table and finished the braid off.

“Thank you, my master.” Obi-Wan bowed before the older man and gave him the first genuine smile since their meeting.

“You are quite welcome, my padawan. Let us finish getting you dressed. We have a dinner to attend.” Dooku ushered the padawan to his quarters off the living room, knowing his new uniform had already been delivered by the quartermaster. As the door to his room closed, Obi-Wan rested his back against it, running his hands gently over the small braid. “I will not let you down, master.” He spoke softly, shielding his thoughts tightly. ~You took me out of pity, I know you did not wish this, but I promise to make you proud of me, master. ~

Dooku stopped in his quarters for a moment, feeling his apprentice’s mood turn somber. “Oh, Obi-Wan, we must teach you to not shield so tightly from your master.” He left the boy to his privacy for now, but they had a long road ahead of them.

Chapter Text

The door chimed and both master and apprentice immediately looked up from their activities. Mace had spent the evening making his Master’s favorites for last meal. The air was filled with the aroma of earthy mushrooms and wine. Qui-Gon had little culinary skill, so he observed, hoping to learn so he could take care of his master in such a way one day. “It would seem that our dinner companions have arrived, Padawan. Shall we see how cranky my old master is tonight?” Qui-Gon gave him a shy smile, still unsure of their relationship. His hand was drifting over his new padawan braid. “Relax, Qui. Tonight is for celebrations.”

“Yes, my master.” They made their way to the front door and watched it slide open. The vision before them was remarkable. The tall older gentleman was what Qui-Gon could only call regal. It wasn’t just that his robes were perfectly wrinkled free and pressed without a stain, it was the way he wore them. Just behind him, two steps behind was his best friend. His hair shorn in the padawan cut, just as Qui-Gon’s was earlier that day. No longer the blondish red hair, but a deeper color, he found himself almost mesmerized at the transformation. Their eyes met and the empty expression on Obi-Wan’s face disappeared to be replaced by the warmest smile he had ever seen.

“My Master, please come in. It has been a while since you’ve visited. Make yourselves at home, please.” Mace waved the two inside. Qui-Gon took the two cloaks and hung them on the nearby hooks as Mace offered Jard and Obi-Wan a seat on the sofa. “Thank you, Mace and I think we’ve been over the fact that I am no longer your Master. Please call me Jard, especially this evening. It is a time to celebrate, is it not?”

“Absolutely, Ma…Jard. Ok, old habits die hard.” Mace let out a small chuckle that startled young Obi-Wan. Jard glanced over at the boy and thought to himself. We are too hard on the young ones in temple. They know nothing of just living life. A simple laugh and comradery shouldn’t shock a Jedi. He reached over and patted the knee of his youthful charge, offering a smile in return. “It smells wonderful, Mace. Do I smell marsala, my favorite?”

“Hopefully it will be up to your high standards. Qui-Gon put together the salad for us as well.”

“I am sure it will be wonderful.” Jard held out a diminutive carafe, “As promised, a wonderful bottle of chateau Lysta from my outer rim adventures. Shall we go into the kitchen and open it to breath?” Mace gave the mature man before him a sly smirk. “You just want to check the marsala to see if I seasoned it enough!” Dooku stood up from the sofa and feigned a hurt expression. “You wound me, my young one.”

“I still know you, Jard. Let us finish up supper and let the boys relax a bit before dinner.” They left the living room for the kitchen, Jard’s arm wrapping around Mace’s back as they continued their banter. Obi-Wan sat against the couch, his back stiff as he looked shyly at his friend. Qui-Gon moved from the chair to the sofa to be closer to the smaller boy, his hand reached out gently to touch the red strands of hair that made up his new padawan braid. “I am so happy that you didn’t have to go back to Bandomeer.”

“M-me too.” Obi-Wan’s eyes moved from his companion to the floor. He still felt like he wasn’t worthy to wear the braid. “Ben, please talk to me. I can feel how sad you are.”

“I’m not sad. I…I…” Obi-Wan slammed a tight wall around his emotions, wondering how Qui-Gon could feel what he knew his master did not. Taking the small boy’s hand in his and enfolding it lightly, Qui-gon shut his eyes and pressed delicately against the shields that his Ben had erected. “You may shield from me, but even then I can feel you. I don’t know why, but we’re connected in some way. On Bandomeer, I could feel your emotions when we were parted.” Feeling the gentle pressure on his shields, he relaxed them slightly to allow his friend inside. The cold dark places of his mind were suddenly flooded with warmth and light. The hand that was holding his tightened and they both gasped with the overwhelming delight of the light. “Oh Ben, How can you look at yourself and see anything but a wonderful person?” Qui-Gon reached out pulled the younger boy into his arms, wrapping him in a warm embrace.

“Qui, please don’t tell my master. H-H-He only took me as a favor to Master Mace, but I will prove that I can do it. I won’t mess this up.” Lifting his chin up soothingly with a finger, Qui-Gon beheld the unshed tears in Ben’s eyes, his heart breaking at the sight before him. “Ben, I promise not to tell, but you need to let your shields down. Master Mace said that the bond we share is only as strong as I allow. If I don’t trust in him and him in me that the bond will not flourish. You are going to be a great Knight one day. Trust in your master, Ben, please.” Before the young boy could respond with the lie that was on his tongue they both heard Mace call them to the table. “Time for dinner, boys!”

Dinner was a wonderful masterpiece that everyone enjoyed, Jard and the boys had seconds. Jard had spent the night telling tales of the adventurous young Mace Windu. There were many laughs and companionship shared during the meal. “Shall we head to the living room for desert?” Mace gestured for everyone to follow. He brought with him a small tray with bowls of a sugary confection with him. Both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan sat together on the sofa, devouring the sweet perfection. “That was delicious Master Mace.” Obi-Wan placed the bowl back on the tray and sat back with his friend.

“So Jard, How long will you be gracing us with your presence?”

“Unfortunately, not long my old friend. There is already a pressing mission that I must attend to in the outer rim. Obi-Wan and I will be leaving tomorrow afternoon.” Both boys gasped at this news and Ben curled up closer to Qui-Gon for a moment before sitting up rigidly once more, his demeanor changing from that of young boy to robotic padawan. Both master’s immediately noticed the misery radiating off of Qui-Gon and Mace offered a weak smile to his padawan. “Qui, you can send comm’s and writing to each other when time permits. I know it is not the same, but it’s not goodbye. It’s just see you later.”

Jard looked at his small ward and noticed that he could feel nothing from his padawan. No feelings of sorrow or fear, just nothing. He gently probed at the strong shields of his padawan and frowned again. He once more thought of refusing the mission and working on their bond, but he could not in good conscience refuse when people were in danger. They would find time to talk and fix this wall between them. He looked at the boy and missed the smiles and youth that had been on display the last two hours, only now replaced with an outer mask of perfection. “Mace, why don’t I help you clean up before we call it a night.”

“You want to help me clean up? That doesn’t happen very often, deal. Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, why don’t you both meditate together? Perhaps in the force you can find peace together.” Qui-Gon heard the two men chuckling as they argued over who was washing and drying the dishes. “Would you do me the honor of meditating with me, Ben?” He held out his hand to Obi-Wan, palm out and up in a non-threatening gesture. Ben looked into his eyes with a hallow look of despair and placed his hand over Qui-Gon’s. “I don’t know that I am settled enough to meditate, but I would like to try.”

The boys kneeled on an open area of the living area, their knees touching gently, hands still connected together. “It will be ok, Ben, I promise.” The words hit Obi-Wan at full force and he broke from the meditation pose and started to sob into Qui’s arms. Qui-Gon wrapped his arms snugger around his distraught friend, hoping to offer a bit of comfort. “Shh, it is ok Ben.” He rocked the small lad back and forth, offering small words of comfort here and there. Using a bit of the force, Qui-Gon augmented his strength and picked Obi-Wan up and carried him to the nearby sofa, still wrapped tightly around his body for protection. They rested against the sofa, still rocking each other back and forth as the wild sobs turned into small hitching breaths. “I got your tunics all wet…I’m sorry.” The soft words were mumbled into his chest. “They will dry, Ben. Are you ok?” He felt the head bob up and down against him. As the moments passed and Qui-Gon rubbed small circles against Obi-Wan’s lower back he felt his breath even out into sleep. Qui-Gon sent out a small tendril of comfort to the sleeping boy in his arms. “Sweet dreams m’friend.” As the dishes continued to clatter in the distance Qui-Gon felt the pull of sleep himself, taking comfort that at least for now, his Ben was in his arms.


 

Obi-Wan felt himself drift awake, reaching out with his senses to assess where he was. The last thing he remembered from last night was the feeling of safety and comfort wrapped in Qui-Gon’s arms. He opened his eyes and looked around the room. White walls, bare of anything greeted him. He immediately felt shame that his master had probably carried him back to their quarters. “How can I be his padawan if I can’t even control my emotions? I cried like a baby in Qui-Gon’s arms until I fell asleep. You really are Oafy-Wan”, he thought sadly. Obi-wan drug his body from the bed and padded quietly to the fresher.

He finished his ablutions and then looked into the mirror before him. “Who are you?” He whispered softly to the pale sad image before him. Unable to answer, the young boy truly wanted to punch the ghostly image in front of him, but knew it would upset his master and that was the last thing he wanted at this moment. He quietly made a decision, a declaration to the image in the mirror. “I will be the best padawan. There is no emotion, there is peace. I can bury my feelings deeply, he won’t ever know that I know it was only pity. I will make sure he doesn’t regret the day he walked into the council chambers, I promise my master.”

Master Dooku had woken up an hour earlier and prepared them a small first meal, his mind extended out to his padawan that was still in the fresher. When they had come out of the kitchen the night before they were greeted to the peaceful sight of Qui-Gon holding Obi-Wan tightly as they both slept, it almost broke his heart to know he would soon be separating the two. Jard and Mace had each deepened the sleep of the padawans so they could move them without disturbance. With Obi-Wan snuggled against Jard’s chest, Mace had said goodnight to his former master, thanking him for evening. “I will miss you, my old padawan.” He then carried Obi-Wan back to their quarters and tucked him in for the night. He still couldn’t believe that he once again had a young lad to usher into knighthood. The steaming kettle set off an alarm that brought Jard out of his distant thoughts and back to the present. As he steeped the tea for their morning breakfast Obi-Wan entered and sat calmly at the table before them. He no longer showed the shadow of sorrow that he had last night, in fact, he seemed resigned and calm in the force. “Good morning, my padawan. Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, master.” They ate in silence and then cleaned up the dishes, packing everything away until the next time they graced these quarters. They spent the remainder of the day visiting the quartermaster for supplies and uniforms for their upcoming mission. After what seemed like an eternity waiting for their requisition to be filled, they made their way to Obi-Wan’s instructors at temple and received the current and upcoming assignments to keep him current academically. The day was nothing out of the ordinary for a Jedi, but it was the beginning of everything for the youth tagging along two steps behind the regal Master. Jard expected to feel anxiety and perhaps a bit of fear coming from Obi-Wan because this was his first mission. Every other padawan before Obi-Wan had radiated both, Mace almost made him nauseous with the fear on their first mission. Maybe the experience of Bandomeer had colored his experience and he no longer feared the unknown. At the young age of nine, he didn’t expect such a poised young man, he was indeed proud to be his Master.

As they strode down the hall, the Jedi they passed nodded with both affection and approval at the newly formed partnership. They were almost to the refectory for noon meal when they heard the familiar click of a gimmer stick against the tiled floor. Dooku stopped before the diminutive master and bowed in respect for his old master. “Master Yoda.” Obi-Wan bowed in sync with his master, he still felt an open ache when he looked at the grandmaster of their order. He still felt betrayed by the green creature that stood before him, but he did his best to bury those feelings deep. “Padawan mine. Leave us already you are?”

“Yes, Master Yoda. I was requested personally to oversee mining negotiations on Elsa-Nine. Obi-Wan and I will be leaving in the next hour.” Yoda nodded towards the older man but his focus was on the boy before him. He regretted that his actions had hurt the young man before him. He wasn’t a monster, but sometimes hard decisions came from being the grandmaster of the Jedi. The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one. As much as he stated that the future was always in motion, the future he had seen in Obi-Wan’s eyes was unchanging. “Back to the temple you will come. Stay away for years, unacceptable it is.”

“Yes master. I will have to come back in order for Obi-Wan to stay current on his assignments.” Yoda swung his gimmer stick at the shins of the greying master. “When Mace was younger, also stayed away you did. Excuses you will use not.” Yoda huffed and started to move towards the refectory once again. He turned around one last time and looked at Obi-Wan directly. “Sorry I am young one, for the hurt that I caused. May the Force be with you, always.” Jard turned to look at Obi-Wan’s expression, once again seeing none. “Are you ok, Obi-Wan?”

“Yes master. It is not the Jedi way to hold a grudge. I understand they did what they needed to do.” His eyes once again dropped to the floor below him. Jard let out a soft sigh and decided that this battle was best fought later when they had more time. “Let us get our last meal before we head out.” Their cloaks billowed behind them as they walked into the refectory to enjoy the comradery of their fellow Jedi before they headed out on their first adventure.


 

This was it, Jard thought to himself. It was time to once again leave this god forsaken planet. He couldn’t stand the politics of the senate or the Jedi Council and he yearned for the expanse of space and planets that weren’t covered in nothing but metal and plaster. He stood before their transport, looking out at the traffic of Coruscant. He was so lost in his thoughts of the future and the past that he didn’t notice the presence behind him. “Master?” Mace placed his palm on the shoulder of the older man before him. “Padawan…” The word was an embrace in itself. “We wanted to see you and Obi-Wan off.” Jard turned around and faced them both, their cloaks flying gently in the breeze. “I am glad that you did. Soon you and young Qui-Gon will be off on your own adventures. Be sure you both keep in touch and stay safe.”

“We will, Jard. I…Please stay safe, master. I will miss you.”

“Tsk Tsk, young one. Don’t let the council hear that, they may think you are attached to me.” He chuckled and let his hand reach up to stroke the dark-skinned master’s cheek gently. “Until next time, Mace.”

“Goodbye, Master.” Beside the two older masters both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon stood quietly just looking at each other, their awkward silence radiating in the force. “I will wait for you inside, young one.” Dooku turned to leave and nodded once more to Mace who retreated to the opening corridor to give the boys some privacy.

Not caring that they might be watched, Qui-Gon reached out and clutched Obi-Wan in a tight embrace. “I will miss you, Ben.” Unable to trust his voice just yet, Ben just tightened his arms around Qui-Gon. The two stayed like that for what seemed like forever in their eyes. They traded gentle comfort and reassurance through the force. Dooku came down the ramp once more and felt terrible for tearing them apart, but the pilot was getting anxious to depart. “It is time, young one.”

“Yes, Master.” Obi-Wan’s voice choked on a sob. “I will miss you. Don’t…f-forget me.” His eyes flashed with something that Qui-Gon couldn’t pinpoint, it was almost as if he knew something that Qui-Gon did not. “I could never forget you. I will write whenever I can. We won’t lose touch, Ben. I promise.” Obi-Wan turned to walk up the ramp, not looking back as he murmured softly to himself. “I wish that weren’t so, Qui…Goodbye.” Mace and Qui-Gon stood away from the transport as it lifted off into the air, taking their friends to another place. “It will be ok, padawan. You will see him soon.” Qui-Gon just stayed in silence feeling like the force was trying to tell him something, he couldn’t help but feel that everything was anything but alright as the transport went from a speck in the air, to nothingness. “Stay safe, my Ben…”

Chapter Text

Mace looked out the window of their quarters as the traffic on Coruscant continued to move by as normal. Today was no normal day to him; he’d spent the last seventy-two hours at the healers, watching his padawan float in a bacta tank. The young man had been by his side for more than nine years and still he couldn’t believe how much he had relied on that ever comforting presence in his mind. Currently that presence was nothing but a hum of nothingness. They had been on a grueling list of missions for the last two years. Going from one war zone to the next, with little time to rest and recoup from injuries.

The last mission they had been sent on was to help a caste society put to rest a coupe by outer factions. However, it turned out that the outer faction was fighting for their rights as sentient beings. They were being used as slaves, with little care for their lives. They were trying to get the ruling caste to listen to their grievances with little effect.

Mace and Qui-Gon had been there for almost eight tens when all hell broke loose. They were in negotiations with all the major castes and Mace had believed they were finally making some headway when one of the royal guards opened fire on the room, blaster shots firing toward the lower end of the tables. He observed as one of the slave castes took a blaster shot to the chest and fell back against the cold floor. He immediately ignited his saber and soared over the table to try and block the shots that were now raining down on them.

“Qui-Gon, protect the leader!” Mace roared out and fought his way towards the guards that were now all firing without thought for their targets. He used a force push to the two guards at the left and immediately brought his saber to bear on the remaining guard, dismembering his arm just as three more shots burst forth from the gun. The force immediately flared to life, warning the Jedi Master of impending danger. He turned just in time and screamed out to his padawan as he watched in horror. The young man threw himself in front of the leader of the slave caste, taking the blaster shot in the abdomen.

Time itself seemed to stop as Qui-Gon took the shot and fell to the floor, his head crashing down onto the metal table. With a force assisted run, Mace quickly ran to his apprentice and cradled his limp body in his arms. Mace closed his eyes and reached out for their bond, searching for any sign of hope. “Please, Padawan.” Mace mumbled and started to rock the man back and forth against his chest. Qui-Gon was now twenty and no longer a young boy; he towered over most of his fellow padawans and was about an inch taller than his own master. If he had been conscience he would be commenting on how he was too big to be cradled in his master’s lap, but there was no smile, no lilting accent, and no life in the bond. There was just a hollow hum, no sign of a life presence. “Oh Qui, please hold on.” He whispered to the man that would be more than an apprentice, more than a friend, a wonderful presence that he could only call son.

That had been three days ago. He had immediately put an end to the negotiations and carried his ward to a waiting transport. Once he was stable inside the transport they headed for the healers on Coruscant. Along the way he had tended to his blaster burns and made sure they did not become infected, but it was the head wound that had both Mace and the waiting healers concerned. When they had arrived on the landing pad, the healers were waiting and immediately took the pale padawan from him. “We have him from here Master Windu. The council wishes you to report to them immediately.” Mace shrugged at the words and continued to walk with the healers, uncaring of the stares he was getting. He would see the council on his own terms when his son was stable; they could bemoan the attachment rule to him at a later date. He was uninterested at the moment. He just yearned for those cerulean eyes to open just once more.

He trembled as he thought back to that first day in the temple when he finally given in to the obvious, he was attached to his padawan and thought of him as his own family. He could no longer pretend. No other person in the world meant more to him than the boy that was fighting for his life in a tube of bacta. “Come back to me Qui. I cannot do this without you. I am meant to die before you. A father should not have to watch his child die before him.” Mace dropped to his knees before the window, giving way to exhaustion and worry as tears fell down his cheeks. With his head in his hands, the master wept as the door slid open without notice. Quickly Mace glanced up from his hands as a large body enfolded their arms around him. “It is ok my own. You are not alone in this.”

“Master?” Mace couldn’t believe his ears as he tried to wipe the tears and turn to look at the long absent man. “Jard, He’s in a coma. They…T-They aren’t sure that he will regain consciousness.” Dooku’s arms wrapped tighter around the dark skinned Korun man, feeling his old student tremble from emotion. “When is the last time you have slept?” Mace just shook his head back and forth against the warm chest of his old master, suddenly feeling like the young boy he once was. “Eaten?” Mace just sat still and finally shook his head once more. “Our son’s aren’t supposed to leave this existence before us, and that includes you, my young one. You need to keep your strength so that you are there for the upcoming battle.” Jard tilted his fingers under Mace’s chin and lifted the tear filled eyes to his. It dawned on Mace suddenly that they were not alone in the room. In the corner, still covered fully by his robes, was Obi-Wan. “Obi?” Jard nodded to his padawan.

“Obi-Wan will stay with Qui-Gon while we get you cleaned up, fed and a nap. He will alert me immediately if there is any change.” Ben finally approached Mace and lowered the hood of his robe, revealing not a boy, but a beautiful young man. “I…I am sorry Master Windu. I am sure that Qui-Gon will fight this. Please go with our master, I will keep watch for you.” Mace looked up into the blue grey eyes of the young man, so serious, so much older than they should be. He was struck by how hallow they were. He had seen those eyes once before on a planet that almost stole all three of them from destiny’s hands. He wanted to comment, but his mind was immediately drawn to a small beep on the machinery next to Qui-Gon’s tube. “He is fine, my own. Trust in Obi-Wan. He will see that any changes are reported to me.”

Mace rested his head against his master’s chest one last time for the comfort of human touch and then slow pushed his way up to stand. “I will shower and eat, but then we are coming back. I…cannot let him…wake up without me.” Jard gave him a dour look that said he knew that wasn’t the truth of things. He didn’t want the boy to die without his master by his side and he was too scared to give the words a voice. Dooku nodded to his apprentice and wrapped an arm around Mace’s waist, leading them out of the medical unit and back to his quarters to clean up and rest.

Once the doors to the room closed with a barely audible hiss Obi-Wan let down his guard and closed his eyes against the emotions that were bombarding him. Nine years, Nine years of missions, of lessons, of never stopping, he was not ungrateful for his master, but they never seemed to have time to breath. Padding closer to the bacta tube, Obi-Wan took the robe from his shoulders and laid it to rest on the single chair that sat in front of the machine keeping his old friend alive. Obi-Wan was no longer the small frightened child that clung to the older boy in hopes of not disappearing, however his friend still towered over his figure. He would never be as tall as Qui-Gon, built of solid muscle and strength. He was small in stature, but made up for it with the grace of a dancer.

“I have often dreamed of this moment. I knew when we saw each other again that it wouldn’t be on the best of terms, but I didn’t think it would be…this.” Obi-Wan sat in the chair and looked up at the man suspended in the red clouded glop. The gasp that left his mouth was unexpected as he took in the form of his long lost friend, suspended completely naked in the tank except for a small pair of tightly clung underwear.

Obi-wan quickly assessed his friend, taking in the changes that had happened in the nine years since they had seen each other. He started at the top and noticed his hair had turned from a dark blonde to bronze, and it was slightly outgrown from the traditional padawan cut. That could only mean that they had been on mission for a while and did not have time to maintain such a silly practice. The locks floated gently in the red gel and Obi-Wan could almost see a time when that hair would be grown out, cascading down the shoulders to caress his face. Working his way down, he frowned at the emotionless face. There was no crease in the forehead that signaled any pain, which he was grateful for, but it was preferred to this blank presence that was suspended in front of him. He stood from the chair slowly and approached the red tank, his hand reaching out to touch the warm surface as he continued his assessment. From the face, to the broad shoulders, to the chiseled chest of a warrior, down to the full formed six pack abs of an Adonis, his eyes were glued to the magnificent body before him.

“What are you doing? You haven’t seen him in nine years, he’s on death’s door and you are looking at him like he’s for sale at some meat market.” Obi-Wan once again touched the outer core of the tank and reached out into the force for guidance.

He missed his friend, but he knew nine years ago that it wasn’t their time. At first they tried to stay in touch through communications. They talked whenever time would allow, which wasn’t much. Once the time for communications would not allow itself they settled for letters. They both compared their new lives with Masters neither quite understood. Those letters after about cycle stopped coming. Obi-Wan was stuck in the outer rim with his master with mission after mission, when they did have down time it was usually to correspond with Coruscant on his studies. Unfortunately to say that life got in the way would be an understatement. He spent most of his time wrapped up in missions, studies and meditation. There were moments, quiet moments in the time before the sun would rise that he would think about his old friend and wonder. He would wonder where he was, how he was doing, and if he thought about him. They were Jedi, and they both had a duty that was above friendship. He had made a pledge years before that he would not let down the one man that allowed him to follow his dream, his Master. “I have missed you, Qui-Gon, please don’t leave us.” Sitting back in the chair before the tank, he placed his head in his hands and built up shields that would impress even Master Yoda, before he let his emotions free. He made sure that his master would feel nothing of his lapse, before he let the tears fall willingly down his pale cheeks. “Please, come back to us…”


 

The doors to Mace’s quarters opened quietly as the two men walked somberly through the door, the younger man was still leaning into the warmth of his old master. “Would you prefer a cup of tea or a shower first, young one?” Mace just mumbled something incoherent before Dooku made a choice and lead him to the fresher. Mace just stood in front of the mirror and stared at the ghostly image before him. His skin was no longer a deep mahogany but ashen, his eyes sunken and hallow of life. “I can’t lose another, Jard. If he joins the force, I don’t think I can come back this time. What kind of man does that make me, what kind of Jedi does that make me?”

Dooku gave him a melancholy look as he started to unwrap the robe from his body. “It makes you the best kind. It makes you human, young one.” He continued to talk as he helped the man from his tunics, baring a body hardened by years of a combat, a body that he had a hand in molding. “He will make it and if he doesn’t, you will. He would want no less from the man he calls father.” Jard placed an open hand on his shoulder and caressed it gently, pushing the man under the heated water. “I am going to be in the other room making us some proper tea, not that café that you call a drink. If you need me, please call.” He left the room, leaving the door to the fresher open just in case and made his way to the kitchen. His old padawan often kept tea in his cupboards just in case his old master stopped by, knowing he hated caf. Starting the kettle, he pulled two cups from storage and leaned against the counter waiting for the water to heat. “Please don’t do this to him again, Force.” Dooku closed his eyes, feeling his own emotions wavering.

His thoughts immediately drifted to his current padawan. Obi-Wan was everything a master could want, he worked hard, got excellent grades and excelled at most things he set his mind to, however there was always something missing. He didn’t have the same connection that he had with Mace, or the connection that Mace had with Qui-Gon. In the nine years they had been together they had not forged a bond that would be considered close. Obi-Wan kept up adamantine shields and refused to let him in. He once considered insisting Obi-Wan let him in, but with all the boy had gone through he didn’t feel that it was the right course of action. It felt tantamount to mind rape insisting that he be let in. If he was honest with himself, he still wondered if he didn’t take Obi-Wan for the wrong reasons. He reached out through the force to his young ward and met with shields once more, except these were stronger than normal. He had learned over the years to gage Obi-Wan’s moods by the strength of his shields. “What does it say to me, that he can’t come to me when he’s obviously in distress, you old fool?” He mumbled to himself as the kettle started to steam.

“Old fool?” Mace had come into the kitchen wrapped in a long robe.

“It is nothing for you to worry about, my friend. Would you care for a sandwich with your tea?”

“I’m not very hungry.” Jard’s stern look told Mace to rethink that statement.

“However, I will eat something to keep up my strength for Qui-Gon.” Mace sat at the table and held the warm cup in his hands as he watched the older man put together something for consumption. “Master? Why have we not seen you and Obi-Wan at the temple? You promised Master Yoda that you would be home more.”

Dooku placed something edible in front of his old padawan and sighed at the question. He knew this wasn’t going to be the last time he was asked this question and he wasn’t looking forward to a time it was asked by his troll of a master. “Things on the outer rim have been trying. We Jedi think because the outer rim are not a part of all things Republic that we should just ignore their needs. They need our help more than ever right now. Something…is brewing out there and I can’t in good conscience leave them to flounder because the Council can’t see past the Senate.”

“But, what of Obi-Wan? How can he be holding up without the classes he needs? Without the friends that being in temple will allow him?” Mace noticed his old master’s shoulders tighten at the questions.

“Obi-Wan is ranked as one of the highest students in the academy, Mace. In fact he is ahead in many of his studies and will be finished this cycle with his courses. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect padawan.” Jard sat down at the table after cleaning out the kettle. “As for friends? I’m not a horrible man, Mace. I approached him many times about returning for downtime and he refused. He said that if it were required he would not argue, but he preferred to continue our work if we were needed.”

“How…grown up of him, Jard are you sure that Obi-Wan is ok?” Mace suddenly felt the force push him harder. “He was still after all, just a child trying to please.”

Dooku flew out of his chair, furious at the questioning of his methods. “Perhaps you should worry about keeping your Padawan safe and less about…” Jard immediately stopped his sentence and gripped the counter for balance. “Mace, oh Mace, I’m sorry...I just. I don’t think I was the best Master for Obi-Wan. He is the epitome of what a padawan should be, but he’s so, emotionless. He’s…” Mace got up from the chair and wrapped his body around his old master, working the older man’s hands from the death grip on the counter. “He’s not me. He’s not Akysha. I know I asked a lot of you and perhaps this is my fault for asking you to take on a child that you were not prepared for.”

Dooku turned to face the concerned eyes of Mace, “I admit that in the beginning my reasons for taking Obi-Wan were more for practical matters then emotional. First there was an exceptional child that was being bullied by not only his peers but by the very council that should have protected him.” Mace led them back to the chairs, but continued to hold his master’s hand as he spoke. “Second and something I’m not extremely proud of is that I wanted to stick it to the Council. They are so ridged and refuse to see that the codes and rules they continue to play by no longer work in this day and age. They are outdated and cost the Jedi much in way of our numbers. We are not as strong as we once were Mace and something is coming that will make that clear soon enough.”

“I have a feeling you are not quite finished my master. What is the real reason?”

“There is little in this world that I can deny you. Force help me, but the reason I took him was because you asked me to.”

Just as the words left his mouth the door to Mace’s quarters closed shut. Someone had been there to deliver a message for Dooku to report to the council and had let themselves in without knocking. That someone had hair of pure white and a delightful smile on his face as he eavesdropped on the conversation. He now had ammunition against his former rival; he would finally get some revenge.

Inside the quarters, Dooku continued their conversation. “I am ashamed of that fact every day, Mace, but after I got to know the boy more, my thoughts changed. While our bond is not close, I love that boy as much as I do you. I once watched him with a group of refugee children caught up by a war. He was on the ground and had a small ball that he levitated just above the ground and played with them. He wasn’t a Jedi in that moment; he was just a young boy that wanted to see them smile once again. One of the young toddlers slipped into his lap and gave him a hug after they were done playing and fell asleep against him. I watched as Obi-Wan stroked his back and let the little one stay, knowing it was the first time he had felt safe since the war had started. That was the exact point in time that my heart knew this wasn’t duty, but the will of the force. I just can’t get him to open up to me; I don’t know what to do Mace.” Mace clutched his hand tighter around Jard’s, “First of all, you need to stop letting him run, Jard. By not returning to the temple you have given him permission to keep running from his own emotions. I know you meant the best when you accepted him, but this is as much my fault as yours.”

“No, this is by no means your fault and you have enough on your plate with Qui-Gon.”

“We can argue blame later, but we will fix this, Master. Both our padawans need healing, even if it’s different types of healing. Those two have always been better together then apart. I have a feeling the force is willing us both here.”


 

Back in the healing halls Obi-Wan had taken up residence in the small chair, guarding his friend that was still immersed in bacta for the next twenty four hours. “I sure did miss you, Oafy-Wan.” Obi-Wan immediately sprung from the chair and looked towards the door that held his old childhood bully. “B...Bruck?”

“Oh! I’m so delighted that you remember me. We are about nine years overdue for a chat, wouldn’t you say?”

Chapter Text

“This isn’t the time or the place for a conversation Padawan Chun.” Obi-Wan studied the features of the padawan before him. It had been a long nine years since the last time they glimpsed each other. He could definitely do with another nine year absence. The beeping of the monitors for Qui-Gon was the only echo that rang through the room for a lengthy minute. Bruck crept towards the Bacta tank, looking on at the incapacitated Qui-Gon, his hands tracing the warm tube as he eyed the young man. “Oh, but it is just the right time and place. Your protector is otherwise…engaged.” Closing his eyes to the taunt, he wanted the white haired pain in his ass anywhere but near his Qui-Gon. Bruck traced his hand in front of the tank as if he was caressing the form that was suspended in the red gel. “Master Dooku and Master Windu will be back any moment, Bruck. I can promise they would not be happy to see you here.”

“Ohhh, if you only knew my old foe. I think you would find it was them that wouldn’t want you here. Oh, did I say that out loud?” Moving to the chair that was still in front of the bacta tank, he molded his body to the metal and glared back at Obi-Wan who was staring at him with disbelief. “I’m not in the mood for your games, Bruck. You will leave now or I will call Master Dooku and have you removed!”

“Oh will you tell on me again? Because that worked so well for you last time. I got a slap on the wrist and chosen as Padawan shortly thereafter. I have spent the last nine glorious years in the temple, making friends and making the masters proud of my achievements. What have you done, Oafy-Wan?”

“Being a Jedi is not a contest Bruck Chun and I will ask you one more time to leave here. I am not going to let you goad me into a response, I have grown up and learned that sometimes it is better to step away then give into anger and pettiness.” The red-haired young man moved his body into position between Bruck and Qui-Gon; he would not watch an unprotected Qui-Gon pay for his ancient conflicts. “I will leave you to your vigil soon enough; however I just came from Master Windu’s quarters and overheard a conversation. Being the friend that I am, I thought I should make you aware of just what was said, it is only the right thing after all.”

“Go away, Bruck! You no longer have any influence over me; my master has taught me that the only thing that matters is how he and I view my training and person.” Obi-Wan was starting to seethe as the moments continued. His body was tired and ached for a bed after traveling so far in a small amount of time. The mind was in even graver shape as he kept up his shields and mourned the injury to his old friend.
Bruck finally arose from the chair and drew near his prey with a grin that gave away everything. “That ancient relic has you so fooled, Obi-Wan. I almost…almost feel sorry for you. I went in search of Master Dooku because you both have been summoned to the council chamber for a debriefing. I knocked of course, but no one answered and the door was open.”

“Of course you did…” Bruck smirked once more and moved his hand to Obi-Wan’s forehead, sending him a mental image of Mace and Jard sitting at a table in the kitchen, Mace holding his master’s hand gently as Jard’s eyes seem to glisten with unshed tears. “See what I witnessed, Obi-Wan. Know the truth as you deserve.” Letting his eyes close he centered on what Bruck was trying to show him in hopes of getting the boy to leave the room. He concentrated on the words that were being said as he let out a gasp.

“I have a feeling you are not quite finished my master. What is the real reason?”

“There is little in this world that I can deny you. Force help me, but the reason I took him was because you asked me to.”

“You should have stayed on Bandomeer, Oafy-Wan; it was where you were meant to be. Not even your own master wanted or wants you. You don’t deserve to wear the uniform of a Jedi.” The venom that spewed from the white-haired form in front of him continued to pour from his mouth, but Ben was caught in the moment. Hearing the words in his head over and over that he wasn’t wanted, never wanted. Bruck stretched out and trailed a finger down his cheek as he leaned over and whispered into his ear, “Welcome home, BEN.” Satisfied with himself, Bruck sauntered towards the door to leave, turning his head slightly before departing, “I do hope your friend recovers.” As the door slid shut behind Bruck, Obi-Wan felt his body trembling with uncontrollable grief and despair; he pushed his frame against the bacta tank and slid down to the ground, curling up in a fetal position.

You knew he didn’t want you. You knew that your bond has never been close. Why do you care now? The voice was once again there, his mind speaking to him as if it were a separate entity, the darkness embracing him where the light would not.

“I-I thought, perhaps he had grown to care for me. I knew he had accepted me for Mace, but I had hoped that I had proven myself t-to him.” The barest of whispers came from Ben’s lips as the room turned a few degrees cooler.


He cares naught for you, young one. You are not his beloved Mace; you will never measure up to him. Not even the friend you sit in vigil over cares for you.

“That is not true!” Obi-wan pushed himself into a sitting position and held his head slightly. “We were both busy, we just…lost contact. He’s…He’s my friend and you can’t take that away from me!”

Delusional, fool hardy and worthless, these are the words that are spoken behind your back my very young one. They will never understand you and most likely will soon banish you back to Bandomeer.

“I would die before I return to the AgriCorps. I will be a Jedi or I will be nothing.”

Just as the final promise left his mouth the doors to the room slid open and in strode Master Dooku and Master Windu, Dooku offering support to his old padawan. Mace stopped abruptly as he took on the sight before him. Obi-Wan was sitting against the bacta tube, his knees pulled tightly to his chest, his eyes lifting to the approaching men. “Are you ok young one? I-Is something wrong with Qui-Gon?” Mace immediately raced closer to his still suspended padawan and reached out to their bond still only feeling the strange humming sensation. “I am. OK. I was just, I guess I didn’t realize how much I missed Qui-Gon and seeing him like this, it’s a bit overwhelming. If I can be excused, master?”

Jard reached over the bond, trying to discern what had upset the boy so much, only to be shut out once again. “You are excused to our quarters, young one. However tonight we will talk about what is bothering you, no more shields, do you understand?” Obi-Wan swallowed, his mouth suddenly feeling as if he had spent the day in a barren region. “There is nothing…” Dooku held up his hand, his gaze telling him that there was no discussing this issue further. “Yes, master.” Obi-Wan scrambled out the door as quick as he could, he strived to get away from the penetrating stares the two masters.

“Jard?” Mace placed a hand on the older man’s shoulder and gently turned him around to face him. “Yes Mace, I felt it too. Something is wrong and I have to mend the rift between us. However, things have brewed for nine years; it can wait a few more hours. When are the healers due to view Qui-Gon’s progress?”

“In the next few minutes, but after that you really need to go to your own padawan. Something just isn’t right.” Dooku nodded his consent to Mace as he looked out the window and viewed the large buildings of the nearby senate district. Something in his stomach stirred as he reached out in the force for direction. Darkness was brewing close and it permeated his senses as he concentrated on the senate, there just below the surface something or someone dabbling in the dark had their senses set on the Jedi Temple. How could the Council not feel this? He thought to himself as he continued to reach out, trying to pinpoint exactly what it was. Just as he was getting closer to an answer the door slid open and a team of healers came in noisily breaking his concentration.

“Excuse us, Masters. We came to asses Padawan Jinn.” A small rodian healer started to read the monitors attached to the bacta tube. “It would seem that his blaster burns have healed nicely.”

Mace observed as they all moved about the room checking multiple read outs as his padawan continued to float unresponsive before them. “It is time to remove him from the tank, Mace.” Master Healer Vokara Che silently entered the chamber to almost startle the other master. “His wounds from the blaster are healed; the bacta can do no more for him. The rest is up to his will and the force.” The twi’lek offered her hand to the master and squeezed it gently. She had the unfortunate pleasure of seeing the both of them in the healer’s hall quite often. When one was here, the other was the ghost that haunted the hallways. “We’ve had this discussion in the past Master Windu and I really don’t wish to revisit it once again, but if you do not take care of yourself then I will order you banished from the boy’s room until you do.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” Mace immediately came to his full height, towering over the master healer.

“I would and don’t you try to intimidate me, Mace. I’ve known you for a long time and I know better. The only thing that is going to heal your padawan now is your trust in our healers and trust in the force. The mind is something that we still know very little about and he may or not come out of the coma. He could wake up in ten minutes or it could be months. If you do not rest and take care of yourself then how will you be able to support him?” The dressing down by the healer made Mace’s ashy skin turn a darker color from embarrassment. He knew he was being irrational, but this was his life and he just didn’t want him to wake or die alone.

“I will see to it that my former padawan gets the rest and food that he needs Lady Che.” Dooku rested a hand of support on Mace’s tense shoulders as he tried to bring peace to the room once again. “Master Dooku, always a calming presence in the storm. It is good to have you home again, Jard. Do make sure that you bring your own padawan to us for a checkup. You’ve been gone from us for so long.”

“At your will milady. Obi-Wan has kept his medical needs up to date through the med stations in the outer rim but I will make sure he stops by for a once over.”

“Masters if you could give us about twenty minutes we will get Qui-Gon from the tank and clean him up. Once he is stable, we will move him to a more private room.”

“Very well, please send me a comm the minute he is settled.” Vokara Che smirked at the man before her, “The minute he is settled, Mace. Now go get some fresh air, meditate, something that isn’t related to this medical ward for at least twenty minutes.


 

Obi-Wan fled the medical ward, his body on automatic response as he retreated deep inside his own mind. He played out the vision that Bruck had revealed to him again and again. The padawan was meant to be heading to their quarters, but his feet were leading him elsewhere. There was no desire to sit and wait for his master to tell him the truth that he would be returning to Bandomeer. As soon as his master pried down his shields, he would see that he was pitiful and be done with him. When the young man pulled himself from his reflections he looked up and found that he was in the room of a thousand fountains. When he was younger he would spend hours in this room. It was the one place that could soothe his anxieties no matter what was happening in the temple at the time. His teachers would scold him as they searched the grounds to find him lost in meditation instead of at his studies. The water flowed and the sound was as soothing as ever, he knelt tenderly and reached out to the force for the comfort that he desired only to find it just out of his reach. The lines on his forehead creased and his mouth pursed as he once again felt the force flutter from his hold.

Even the force has forsaken you, young one. The voice once again attacked his thoughts and Obi-Wan held his head as he felt the violation of something deep inside him.

“L-L-Leave me alone!” gripping a small stone on the ground, he struggled to find a connection to the living force, something to guide him from the dark thoughts that now surged through his mind.

Why suffer any longer? You know that they will banish you once again. Your life is meaningless and full of pain; you know how to ease it.

Just as Obi-Wan thought he could handle no more, he felt the warmth of the force flow through him and a small clawed hand rest gently on his shoulder. “Good to see you, it is, my young one.” Yoda scooted closer to the boy and sat cross legged on the ground before him. “Missed you were. Not only by me, but also by Padawan Jinn. Done running, you are?”

Obi-Wan feigned ignorance, knowing he could hide very little from the old Jedi Master. “I have not been running, Master Yoda. We’ve been very busy in the outer rim. When we got news of Qui-Gon’s situation Master Dooku immediately dropped everything and brought us home.”

“Indeed. Struggle to reach the force you were. Would you meditate with me, young one?” Obi-Wan felt like a young initiate, needing the help of the grandmaster to help meditate like he was a baby once more. “I just finished, Master Yoda. I need to return to my quarters before Master Dooku gets back and finds me missing. I don’t wish to cause him more grief than he’s going through right now. Master Mace is taking things…hard.”

“Master not only one, but Padawan as well. Know well that trust me, you do not, but wish to help when accept you do that you need it.” Yoda stroked a claw lightly down the padawan’s cheek and felt so much sadness and turmoil in the young one before him. He knew that he was mostly responsible for the jumbled emotions, but that was the past and he needed to make sure that the future was secure for this young one that had a hard destiny ahead of him. “Return to your quarters you will and tell Master Dooku that expect to see you both for lunch tomorrow, I do.”

“Yes Master Yoda.” Obi-Wan stood and bowed to the grandmaster of the order and immediately ran from the room and out into the halls, heading for their quarters.

His feet blindly led him to the quarters with a plaque that read, Master Jard Dooku and Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. His hands ran over the plaque and he couldn’t help but still feel an outsider in these chambers. They had spent maybe a week or two total in the rooms that were registered as “theirs”. As the door to the chambers opened, the stale air whooshed past Obi-Wan, only reinforcing his thoughts of how long they had been gone from the temple. The white walls of the almost empty quarters were sterile and uninviting as he started to move through the room and take it all in. “I am still a stranger here, after almost nine years.” He ran his hand over the Knick knacks on the shelves he was almost sure had an interesting story. A holopic caught his eye on one of the shelves, a young Korun boy with his master, a full head of hair and a long padawan braid. The smile on both master and padawan’s face was heartbreaking to Obi-Wan. Oh, how he yearned to have that same relationship with his master, but now he knew that it would never be. It was all out of duty and loyalty to the only padawan that mattered to Jard Dooku. Obi-Wan reached out and reverently touched the holo, tears rushing down his cheeks as he scrubbed them away bitterly.

Not wanted, not needed…unloved. You are so tired of fighting; you’ve earned a rest my young apprentice. No one would be surprised if you took the way out.

Obi-Wan closed his eyes to the voice and went silently into the bathroom. Looking at the form in the mirror, it was almost like watching someone else’s life play out. The dark circles under his eyes made him look disturbed, it had been a long time since he had slept and eaten. “Forgive me, my master. I know you had the best intentions. I am sorry that I was such a burden.” He uttered to no one in particular as he rummaged in the drawer for a pair or silver sheers. Finding the sharp instrument he looked into the mirror and grasped his long braid between his fingers, pulling it tight. This was a symbol of honor, of belonging, something he neither earned nor felt compelled to keep as he quickly snipped it off at the ear. The force swirled around him as he gently laid the braid on the counter, hoping that perhaps someday his master would find solace in its keeping.

He took one last look in the mirror and reached out in the force to his old friend, knowing he would feel nothing but emptiness in his conscience. “We will see each other again, Qui-Gon. Please get better, Master Windu needs you.” He turned his body away from the mirror and slid down against the counter, leaning his body alongside it for support. The force once again enfolded him, sending a warning, trying to get him to change his mind. But the voice responded swiftly.

Yes, that is it young one. Sleep…Everything will be better once you sleep.

“I am so tired; I just need a forever sleep.” Obi-Wan spoke out loud as he pulled a small knife from his boot and drew it over his arm gradually. The cold metal against his skin sent a shudder over his spine as he let it rest over his wrist once more, this time applying pressure and feeling his emotions raging free as the knife cut deeper. Trembling hands held the knife reverently as he brought the sharp edge to his other wrist, finally letting the silver instrument fall to the ground, his head leaning against the cabinet as he closed his eyes and finally felt free. “Goodbye Qui-Gon, take care of our Master’s.”


 

As the soft words left the parched lips, deep in the healing halls rich blue eyes came open instantaneously. Qui-Gon was being cleaned of the bacta that clung to his pale skin, when the monitors started going off all around them. The boy started to buck under the hands that were trying to keep him still upon the med bed. “Let…go. Master…M-M-Master…MASTER!” Qui-gon screamed out for the one person that could help him. Mace flew through the doors like a man possessed as he watched the young man struggle against the healers that were trying to strap him down to keep him from harm. “He’s going to hurt himself!” One of the healers held down his arms and reached for the restraints. “Qui, my padawan, what is wrong, please calm down.” Mace ran over and sent a force push to the healer that was trying to tie his young one down. Qui-Gon closed his eyes against the pain that was going through his body, but it wasn’t HIS pain.

Jard stood behind the panicking master as he offered them both support. “Just breathe, Qui-Gon, you are going to be ok. You are going to be alright now.” Mace felt the force swirl around them, his emotions of the last few days finally releasing as he knew that his padawan would be ok. “P-P-Pain…” Qui-Gon stuttered and trembled. Vokara Che was immediately by the side of the now awake padawan with a hydro spray. “This is going to help him relax, Mace.” Qui-Gon’s eyes grew larger as he heard the words and saw the injector coming at him. He reached down deep and shoved the master healer away with the force. “What the…”

“Qui-Gon, they are only trying to help with the pain.”

“N-N-Not my p-pain.” Jard immediately turned pale as a ghost, the words sinking through. Without a word the older master turned from the scene before him and ran from the room towards their quarters. He was running at full force through the temple halls and didn’t care about the odd looks he was getting. He had to find his padawan.


 

In the bowels of the senate chamber, an older man smiled to himself. It had been a long nine years, but he would finally be rid of the one that could defeat him. He had seen it more than ten years before when he tried to kidnap the boy from Bandomeer and turn him, but his plans were foiled and the boy had never returned to the temple in those nine years to try once again. The darkness told him the future, and he would not put his plans in jeopardy, if he could not turn him, then the alternative was death.

“Master, it was done. We will finally be free of that wretched Kenobi.” Bruck Chun lowered his hood and revealed an evil smile as he bowed before his would be master. “Well done, my young one. It will be over soon and you will take the place that was meant for Kenobi. You will soar where he faltered, rise, my dark apprentice.”

“It is finally time for them all to pay, right Master Sidious?”

“Patience, young one. This is but one piece in my puzzle.” The older man ran his fingers seductively over the alabaster skin of his young charge, a smile parting his lips as the darkness embraced them both in a howl of glee.

Chapter Text

The moment that Jard heard the words tumble from Qui-Gon’s mouth, he knew that his padawan was in danger. The force screamed out for him to do something, urgently pressing him towards their shared quarters. After a few minutes, that felt like hours, he finally reached the door to their quarters and watched it open. “Obi-Wan!?” Dooku panted from the sprint, looking around the area for signs of the boy he knew to be in trouble. “Please, Obi, Where are you?” Reaching out through the force he struggled to hold on to the threads of their bond that weren’t being blocked, then unexpectedly the shields fell and Jard almost collapsed with the utter darkness and despair radiating from his young charge. “Oh Obi, please my padawan, be ok.”

The force tugged at him, bringing him before the door to the fresher. The man, feeling older than ever hesitated slightly before overriding the lock and entering to a scene he hoped to never see again. Blood had soaked to the floor from the wounds in his wrists and Jard flew to his side. “Obi…Ben? Please don’t leave me.” Jard yanked the robe from his body and cast it to the side, unfastening his obi and tearing it in half; he used the cloth to apply pressure to the wounds.

“I need healers to my quarters immediately.” Dooku flung the comm unit against the wall and hauled the anemic, barely breathing young man into his arms and onto his lap. They rocked back and forth, his master keeping pressure on his wounds with the force and willing everything else away. “I love you, my own. I love you and I never told you. You are as precious to me as Mace and Akysha. You will always be my padawan even when you have a padawan of your own. Fight this, Obi. Fight for yourself, like you did in front of the council nine years ago. You deserved better than this old shell of a man, and for that I will never forgive myself.” As the swaying slowed a bit, and emotions started to crush the elder man, he beheld open storm-grey eyes. “’m worthless, please let m’ go, master.” The words drowned out the heartbeat that threatened to erupt from his ears. “I can’t deny you much, my Obi-Wan, but in this I have to refuse. You will not believe me in your current state, but you are more worthy than anyone I know.” Jard drew the smaller man closer, to press his parched lips to the cool and clammy skin of Obi-Wan’s forehead. A small kiss, an oath for an improved future was placed reverently upon his padawan’s skin.

The bathroom reeked of copper as the healers swarmed into their residence and wrenched the limp padawan from Jard’s arms. He sat on the floor, tears gushing from his eyes as he observed the Jedi before him apply bacta bandages around the red enflamed cuts. One of the younger healers leaned down and laid a small webbed hand on his shoulder, “He will live, master, but he has a long way to heal.”

“I…understand, whatever I can do for him, it will be his.”

“The physical is easy to fix, the emotional will be harder. You will need to stay temple bound, and we will be taking you off the mission roster.” Dooku just nodded to the healer, perhaps not even listening as he glowered at a dark spot of blood on the nearby wall.

“Leave us, you will.” The voice startled the healer and she nodded to the grandmaster of their order. Yoda shuffled towards his old padawan with his gimmer stick and ran his three clawed hand soothingly through the silver hair. “Sorry I am, that happened this has.”

“Why are you here, Yoda?” The sneer that left his lips was full of disdain at himself, the order and the force itself.

“Removed from the roster, Master Windu and Padawan Jinn will be as well. Help you heal your young one, they can.” With the large man sitting on the floor, Yoda was able to pull his old padawan firmly to his chest and make a small humming noise. “Long road you have ahead. Help you will need in this, help we will give. Mistakes made, by everyone, but heal Obi-Wan can if fight we do.” As the last word left his lips, Dooku curled into the offered body and wept for what almost happen, what he almost lost. “Force forgive me, master, but I did this. I knew he was struggling; I even let him run away from coming home to the temple. However, I don’t understand what set him off so suddenly. I had planned to approach him this evening and work our problems out and let him know how much I cared for him.” The words just spilled from the weeping man, unable to stop them even if he had wanted.

“Up you will get, wash your face you must. To the healers we will go. Think soon I do that answers we will have.” Taking in a deep breath, Jard’s senses were full of what had almost happened in this room. Had he been just a few minutes later, it would have been a different scene; he wouldn’t be struggling to stand and visit his young one in the healing halls, but arranging a pyre. He stood up and positioned his hands on the counter behind him, gazing into the mirror as the water streamed into the sink, letting him see the effects the last fifteen minutes had on his physique. As he glanced to the counter, a glimpse of copper caught his eye. The long braid that entwined master, apprentice and the force was set carefully upon the granite counter as not to unravel. This was his note; this was Obi-Wan’s last message to his master of nine years.

“Why?” Unable to reach out and seize the braid for fear of the finality, Jard scooped the water from the faucet and washed it over his overly warm skin. “Know not, I do, but find out we will. Ready you are?” Yoda held out his hand, hoping that in this he would not be rejected as Obi had been once. “Time to fight it is.”


 

Mace sat by his padawan’s side as he continued to close his eyes against the onslaught of anguish. His hand clasped the younger man’s tightly, hoping to bleed off some of the pain that coursed through his body. “It will be ok, my own. He will be ok.”

“H-H-He’s so cold…lonely…” The cough that wracked the lungs of the man, who had been unconscious but thirty minutes ago, worried his dark skinned master.

“I am sure that he is ok, Qui. Jard found him in time and the healers are now with him. You however are not out of the woods, and need to try and calm down. I cannot stand to see you in that tank again.”

“I know, Master. I am sorry that I worried you, but I’m more worried about Ben.” Just as the argument was about to commence the doors to the private room opened up and the healers brought in a second med bed and moved it to the other side of the room. “Master Vokara Che thought that it would be better to house you together, instead of you trying to injure yourself getting out of bed to see him.” Mace couldn’t help but chuckle, knowing that would have been the case. Qui-Gon struggled to turn his head toward the other bed, watching the chest of the young man rise and fall the expression on his face anything but that of peaceful sleep. “Will he? Is he?”

“He will survive, young one, however it will take time to heal some of the wounds.”

“Master Yoda has sent a message that he will be brining Master Dooku shortly. He also wanted us to relay that you and Padawan Jinn are removed from the mission roster indefinitely to help both Master Dooku and Padawan Kenobi.” The healer took in the form lying silently in the bed one last time and closed his eyes, they very seldom had attempts such as this, but most padawans had more time in temple, Kenobi had no support system in the outer rim.

Almost sensing the judgement of his old master, Mace straightened up and glared at the healer. “If you are done, we would like some time alone. There is nothing more you can do here for now.”

“Very well, we will be monitoring them both through the night, if you have need of us, please call.” The healer almost slunk from the room, ashamed that his shields hadn’t held. Qui-Gon pushed up from the bed, trying to sit up and move out of the bed. “Just where do you think you are going?” Mace’s voice raised, his worry betraying the anger there. “I need to…see him, master, please.” Mace knew that Qui-Gon would only wait until later when he was sleeping or not in the room and possibly hurt himself so he thought it better to just help make sure that no harm came to him. “Very well, I will move the chair near his bed and help you to it, but if you are in ANY pain, it is back to bed. Do you understand?”

“I love you too, Mace.” Scrubbing his hand over his face, he laugh quietly at his imp of a padawan. “You will be the death of me one day, brat.” Reaching around the middle of his padawan, he helped him stand supporting most of his weight on the master. As they approached the bed, they spotted the small frame on the bed moving a touch under the sheets, his arms wrapped in bandages and secured to the med bed. “Master?” The feeling in Qui-Gon’s voice was heart-rending as he gently reached for the binding that held him in place.

“They are only worried that he will undo the bandages and succeed this time, my little one. I know it is not the way we wish to see him, but they fear for his safety. Mace settled Qui-Gon’s large frame into the small chair as he heard a commotion in the hallway. “You will not keep me from him, I am his master!”

“Excuse me a moment, Qui.”

Qui-Gon tuned out the commotion on the outside as he looked down into the porcelain white skin of the boy he hadn’t seen in years. No longer did he have the round tummy of youth, or the chubby cheeks he always used to recall. The reddish blonde hair, had turned to ginger, but something wasn’t right, something was missing. “Oh Ben, why? To remove your braid is to renounce your place in the order.” He moved his hands gently from his forehead to the place behind his ear that should have held the braid that was as long as his. Ghosting his fingertips back over the pale cheeks, he cupped his hands around them and lowered himself so their foreheads were touching. “Come back to me, Ben. I heard you before, it’s your turn.”

The door abruptly opened and Mace had returned, his arms clasped around Master Dooku’s waist, as if it were the only thing holding him up. Qui-Gon could see the toll that this was taking on Jard, including the tear stains upon his cheeks. “I would like to lay back down now, Master.” Mace nodded to him and helped him back to his bed, knowing that his padawan was allowing Jard to take his place at Obi-Wan’s side. “It will be ok Master Dooku, he will be ok.” Qui-Gon closed his eyes as sleep was coming quickly upon him.

“From your lips to the forces ears, young one.” Jard shut his eyes and took hold of one of Obi-Wan’s secured hands, willing all the healing energy he could through the force.


 

It was an unrestful night in the healing halls, they were constantly disturbed by the healers to check monitors and issue more medication. Whenever Qui-Gon shut his eyes in slumber he would discover himself on a small lush hill with a single magnificent tree at its center. Resting underneath the tree was an impish young auburn-haired man, who wore no shirt and shoes, his toes caressing the verdant grass beneath him. Eyes closed, chest gently falling up and down in restful sleep, Qui-Gon advanced, not wanting to disturb the blissful look on the beautiful face. “I was waiting for you. You are quite late.” The cultured accent was music to his ears.

“I didn’t mean to make you wait. I hadn’t realized we had a date.”

“Mmmhmm, I chose to wait for you…”

Just as the words left his pursed lips, Qui-Gon was startled awake by movement within the room. “Master?”

“It is just me young one, I am sorry that I woke you.” Dooku was still sitting in the chair next to Obi-Wan’s bed, clasping his limp hand as if it were the most fragile thing in the universe. He took a moment to assess the older master, the usually perfect silvered hair was disordered and sticking up in places, and his eyes were recessed and dark with circles from lack of rest. Qui-Gon knew that Master Dooku was not a young man, but in the last twenty-four hours he looked like he had aged a decade. “It’s ok, Master. How is Ben?”

“The same I’m afraid. He has yet to wake up, but I do believe they are sedating him until at least morning.”

“He knows you love him, even if right now his brain is ruling over his heart.”

“I wish I could know that for sure, but I’m afraid I didn’t show him my emotions as much as I did with my previous two padawans. He was always so distant, so…withdrawn. I should have pushed, I should have…”

“Could have, should have…We are taught not to waste our emotions and time on those thoughts, Master Dooku. I may not have had much contact with Obi-Wan in the past years, but I know that he would not want you to dwell on such thoughts. He would just blame himself for your guilt.” Qui-gon paused for a moment. “I…I spoke out of turn, I’m sorry master.” Qui-Gon realized quickly that he was out of line to speak to a master in such a way as to think he knew better.

“You only speak the truth, Qui-Gon. I am so glad that Mace found you and that you are on your way to recovery. He was so worried for you, I thought if you had gone that Mace would follow.” Obi-Wan directed his face toward the voices, a small whimper passing through his lips. “It’s ok my padawan. We are here, you are not alone.” The whimpers quickly stopped as Jard ghosted his fingertips over his cheeks and forehead, offering what comfort he could. Just as the whimpers stopped, grey eyes with flecks of green and blue opened and gazed up at his master. “I-I…failed even at this.”

“Oh my precious boy, in this I was never so happy that you failed. I could not live in a world without your light and soul in it.” Obi-Wan tugged at his hands, feeling them locked in place as his eyes started to show signs of panic. “Why, can’t I move?”

“The healers were worried that you would wake and tear your bandages. We, all were worried, I was worried.” Ben closed his eyes against the tears that were once again threatening to fall. He was tired of being an emotional basket case; he was tired of feeling so guilty. “You are allowed your emotions Obi-Wan, it is only understandable to feel such guilt, but we will work on that once you are physically better.” Obi-Wan immediately went into full-fledged panic as he searched himself and realized that his shields were gone. Not just gone, but obliterated, his master and anyone near would feel everything. “No, no,no…noooo.” Struggling against his restraints, the tears now flowed down his cheeks as he thrashed against everything. “Obi-Wan, it’s ok. We will be able to build your shields once again, perhaps not to the same level, but they will return.”

“No! You can’t see me, you can’t…you will know that I’m unworthy!” The healers rushed in with another dose of sedative, looking over at the young man that was turning hysterical. “He does not need or want that.” Dooku shot over his shoulder. “He just needs…space.” Knowing that what he was about to do would bring the wrath of Master Healer Che, he quickly undid the restraints and brought the hands to his lips, laying a small kiss to each palm, watching the fear and panic recede quickly from the padawans body. “It will be ok; we will be ok, Obi-Wan. I promise.” Gently taking the arms, as to not disturb the bandages, Dooku wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into the chair and lap of his silver haired master. “Together we will get through this; you are no longer alone my precious padawan.” Jard continued to murmur soft words of reassurance to the trembling form on his lap.

Qui-Gon closed his lips, afraid to disturb the moment, but watched in awe as the two men clung to each other for support and comfort. Just as he started to feel sleep tugging on his consciousness once again, a pair of storm-grey eyes met cerulean blue. No communication was needed in this moment; the two just stared at each other, glad that the other was alive. The future was always in motion, but living in this moment, they all had each other.


 

The fury that rained down in the dark shadows of the senate building was almost uncontrolled. Darth Sideous let loose a curse that would make even a Hutt from the outer Rim blush. “You failed! He is still alive!” The strike came from nowhere as it connected to Bruck Chun’s flawless face. Blood poured from his mouth as his feet scrambled for ground, his throat tightening as he was pushed up a nearby wall. “I do NOT take failure well. That brat still lives and his master will be ever watchful now.” Bruck grasped at the invisible hand that was choking him, the air rushing from his lungs as the darkness started to tug at his consciousness. “M…Master” He stopped resisting as the hand let go and he fell to the floor with a hard thud.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t just kill you now.” Sideous smirked at the white haired apprentice before him.

“I will finish Kenobi. I will not fail you again, master.” Still breathless for air, the form kneeled in submission before the dark lord.

“No you will not, because to do so will mean your death and I will make sure it isn’t a quick death.” Sideous sneered at the boy and dismissed him. Reaching out to Kenobi once again, he felt Obi-Wan’s shields were non-existent and a smile of delight graced the wrinkled skin. He detected the boy was not alone and he did not want to alert Master Dooku to his dark presence. He would bide his time, but this was not over, he would see the boy dead before he could interrupt his future plans. Just as he finished his last thought a comm unit went off, “Senator Palpatine, you are needed at your office. There is an incoming transmission from your home planet of Naboo. It is being marked urgent.”

“Very well, I will be there shortly.” The smile that graced the lips of the senator was that of a loth-cat that ate a small bird. “You may still live Obi-Wan Kenobi, but it is time to put my plans into motion. Everything starts today, it starts with Naboo.”


 

Obi-Wan had fallen asleep in his master’s arms, his body aching from the awkward position on his master’s lap. He felt the balmy breath on the top of his head, as his master slept. The bond between the two was accessible for the first time in nine years and Ben could feel the love and concern flowing freely over the connection, he was almost in awe of it, but couldn’t help but believe he must still be asleep and dreaming.

“You are not dreaming, Obi.” Qui-Gon’s voice cut through the waning darkness of night. “I know we haven’t spoken in a long time, but I do know that Master Dooku loves you very much.” The grey eyes averted to the ground as he heard Qui-Gon speak softly to him.

“I am glad that you are ok. Master Mace was really scared that you would not wake up from your coma.”

“Someone needed me and I heard his call.”

“Oh” What could he really say to such a statement, he felt so oddly exposed with no shielding. Obi-Wan tried to stand up, pulling himself from Master Dooku’s lap, his back was protesting after hours in the same position. Jard woke suddenly at a loss for the warmth and grasped the younger padawan. “It’s ok Master, I just need to use the fresher.” Looking into the eyes for the first time in a while, Obi-Wan saw the concern and protectiveness that lived there. It was overwhelming to see such emotions and deep down it bothered him, he resented the look of pity that now resided in those eyes.

The fresher door opened and closed just as quickly, Obi-Wan rested his body against the wall and let out a long sigh. Everything had happened so fast and now his life felt more out of control than ever. He just needed, something, to keep the overwhelming sense of loss at bay, his fingers gently playing over the bacta bandages that covered both wrists. The force quickly wrapped around the young man, helping him concentrate within and build a tiny shield around one part of his mind, keeping a small lock box for those thoughts that were meant only for him.

“Padawan, are you ok?” Obi-Wan shook his head, knowing it would forever be this way, he would always be looked on as broken, something to pity not admire. “I am fine, Master. I’m just finishing up.” Relieving himself quickly and washing his hands, he opened the door and gave a shaky smile to the man standing outside. “Are you sure you’re ok, young one?”

“I don’t want your pity; I don’t want you to keep looking at me as if I will break!” The anger flew outward at Jard, his body almost caving in at the burst of emotion.

“I, Obi-Wan…Ben, I believe you are the strongest person I know, it is not pity to want to keep your family safe and happy.” Jard let his fingers gently trail down his cheek before lowering his eyes and retreating to the door. “I should return to our quarters and clean up; I’ve been summoned before the council. We will work through this, Obi; I promise it will get better.”

As the door closed, Obi slid down the wall grasping his knees and rocking back and forth. He had forgotten that he was not alone as someone struggled to break his cocoon of protection. “Obi-Wan, you can’t let the fear and anger win. I can feel the dark calling to you and the thoughts of just giving in are very seductive, but you are stronger than that, you are stronger than you give yourself credit for.” Unable to pull Ben from his fetal position, Qui-Gon was able to clasp his smaller hand in his larger calloused hand, the warmth of that connection flowing through both padawans.

“Would you meditate with me, Ben?”

“I don’t know if I can. I haven’t been able to find my center lately. The force doesn’t seem to answer me any longer.”

“When you do not sense an answer that in itself is the answer, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Ok, Master Yoda.” A small smile broke the tension in the room and Qui-Gon thought it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The two young men moved to the center of the room between the two med beds and kneeled across from each other, their knees just barely touching for connection. “Close your eyes, Ben. Let someone help and show you that it is not weakness to receive or ask for help. It is the way of the Light.” Qui-Gon reached out with is palms and held them both up towards the ceiling, letting Ben make up his own mind to reach out for help. The minutes seemed like an eternity before he felt the warm pressure on top of his palms, the force almost singing at the submission.

Heal, Ben. Find your center and know that you will always belong in the light.

Qui-Gon’s thoughts easily flowed between them, as Ben continued to reach out in the force and for the first time in ages he was able to connect and find his center firmly within the light. The door opened to the room, as a pair of warm blue eyes looked on at the two meditating padawans, Vokara Che couldn’t help but smile for the first time since Qui-Gon was brought into the healing halls. They had a long way to journey, but the peaceful look on both their faces showed that healing was indeed possible.

Chapter Text

“Forgive me, Masters, but I don’t understand why I was summoned when I need to tend to my padawan.” Dooku rubbed his unkempt beard as he addressed the full council, seeking out the concerned eyes of his old master.

“Summoned you were yesterday, attend us you did not. Sorry we are about Young Kenobi. A grave message we received from the senate, Blockade Naboo the Trade Federation does.

“You can’t be serious?! I was told we were to be pulled off the mission roster, Obi, Padawan Kenobi is no shape to go on a mission and I will not leave his side in such a time.”

“Don’t get your unders in a bunch Jard. You truly need to practice the patience you always preach to your padawans.” Sifo-Dyas scolded. “We realize that this is less than ideal and normally wouldn’t override the healer’s recommendations; however, we are talking about an entire planet of lives that are in jeopardy. You and your padawan have been specifically requested by Naboo’s senatorial representative, Senator Palpatine, for negotiations with the Trade Federation.”

Dooku normally, the silent and still type, started to pace the marble floor of the ancient room, his eyes fixated on each and every council member as he considered his words carefully. “How can you make me chose between the lives of many and that of my own padawan? I once thought that the council was just out of touch with the lives that Jedi lead outside this temple, but now I’m beginning to think you just chose not to CARE.” His anger was seething and he was seriously considering laying his lightsaber at their feet and walking out forever. Calm, he told himself, how would that help Obi-Wan, you can’t leave him alone.

“Sorry I am my old Padawan voted they have and mission you will carry out.” Yoda’s ears drooped as he saw the emotions play out over Dooku’s face, knowing that this might be the final straw that drove the man away from their order. He had argued with the rest of the council for hours, but in the end he was the only one that voted to keep the pair temple bound. “One day you will realize that our numbers are not once what they used to be. One day you will realize that the deaths and injuries of our fellow Jedi are on your hands. That blood will not wash off so easily. If anything happens to my padawan on this mission, I promise that you will regret it.” Dooku swirled on this heels, his robe billowing out from his body as he quickly left the council before they could respond and make his anger flare again.  The doors to the chamber closed behind him and he stopped to take a deep breath before making his way to the healers ward to break the news to his padawan.

“Excuse me, Master Dooku.” A pair of ice blue eyes looked up at the flustered master.

“What do you want, Padawan Chun?” The name was uttered from his lips, almost as a curse. He remembered the name well and knew this was the boy that had tormented his padawan as a child.

“I, well, I just wanted to say I’m sorry about Obi-Wan. I know that when we were kids that I was less than kind, and I was sorry to hear about his, accident.” Bruck was almost cackling inside at the thought of being remorseful toward Obi-Wan. He was gleefully aware of what happened and hoped soon to feel his death in the force.

“Gossip travels fast in the temple. Don’t believe for one second that I believe or forgive you for what you put my Padawan through as a child, Just stay away from him, Padawan CHUN.”

“I am sorry you feel that way Master Dooku. I truly am sorry for what took place between us. I was hoping yesterday when I was looking to give you a council message that I would have the opportunity to apologize to Obi-Wan myself.”

Dooku felt the force swirl around him as the young man spoke to him, feeling something important was slipping through his grasp. “Very well, perhaps when we return from Naboo you can make your apologies, but for now, I need to go. Good Day, Padawan Chun.”

As the master walked out the doors and down the hall, Bruck’s leer ignited on his face. Oh, you won’t be returning from Naboo, Master Dooku. My master and I will see to that.


 

Qui-Gon opened his eyes, gazing down at the stunning man in front of him. Their knees were still somewhat touching as Ben had yet to surface from the meditation. He took the moment to indulge in contemplating the lad, no the man that he had once felt so close to. His chest was rising and falling leisurely, his face no longer tense from pain and suffering, he finally appeared to be at peace within the force. “Why did we lose touch, Ben? I should have been there for you, when you needed it.” Casually reaching out, he turned Ben’s arms and traced the white bandages that were wrapped tightly around his wrists.

There was considerable pain before, such extreme grief, what hurt you so much, my friend? As if he heard the thought, Obi-Wan’s eyes fluttered opened to gaze at his companion across from him, only to quickly avert those eyes back to the floor in embarrassment and distress. “There is nothing you need to be ashamed for, Ben. You should bow your eyes to no one.”

“Master Dooku?”

“He’s still with the council, it’s just us. Ben, why did you…”

“At the time it seemed like the only answer.”

“And now, are there more answers? I know that we have grown apart over the years, but there are people that would miss you if you were gone. I would miss you.” Qui-Gon reached over slowly and swept a strand of burgundy hair from his face, gently running the same hand down the stubble of an unshaven cheek.

“There is no death, just the force.” Unshed tears began to form in his eyes as he felt Qui-Gon’s emotions in the force, knowing they were the truth. “He never wanted me, Qui. I tried so hard, and he never wanted me. It was just a favor to the o-o-one he truly loved and cared about, Mace. He doesn’t know that I know, please don’t say anything. I can’t live with the guilt and disappointment anymore. I’ve kept in contact with Liam over the years, perhaps living that life wouldn’t be the end of the world.” Once the words started they just kept spilling faster and faster from his lips.

Qui-Gon pushed back the jealousy that was rearing its ugly head at those words. That Ben had managed to stay in touch with Liam, but not him brought more pain then he wanted to deal with at the moment. “You were meant to be a Jedi, Ben. To say that things between yourself and Master Dooku are strained now is an understatement, but he loves you. Whatever you believe he feels I saw him with you last night, He was devastated.”

Obi-wan thought quietly to himself, Oh he was devastated that he was tied to someone as needy and pathetic as me, I’m sure.

Qui-Gon’s eyes softened immediately as he sensed the words through the force. The bond they had once shared, nine years ago was still there, and he heard the faint words as if they were spoken out loud. He didn’t want to startle his friend, so he chose to ignore the bitter and self-deprecating thoughts.

The door to the room released forcing Qui-Gon’s hands to his sides, no longer touching the inviting skin that he craved to continue caressing. Dooku strode into the room, his eyes dark with fury and contempt, unable to control the emotions the council had dredged up during their meeting. Obi-Wan only felt fury and disappointment in their lingering bond and immediately fell to his knees in front of the older master, his head bowed to the floor in supplication. Both Qui-Gon and Dooku looked at Ben’s submissive posture and frowned at the young man. “Oh padawan. I’m sorry; my anger is not directed at you. I just…” Jard started to speak and quickly lowered himself to the floor, pulling his padawan from the submissive pose to his lap. “Qui-Gon, are you feeling well enough to…”

Qui-Gon quickly interrupted the question and bowed his head. “I will be outside in the hallway if you need me, Ben.” He could use the time away to get his own emotions under control, anger and jealousy weren’t emotions he normally struggled with and he was having a hard time reconciling why. As the door to the room slid closed, Jard took the time to just reach out in the force and feel the emotional currents that were swirling around his apprentice. “Padawan?” Afraid of what was coming; Ben chose to just sit in the comfort of his master’s presence without answer.

“My Ben, We have so much to discuss.”

“Am I?”

“Are you what, padawan?”

“Your Ben? Did you ever really want me?”

“Of course I want you. There is so much I want to say to you and so many things that we need to work out between us, but there is something else we must deal with first.”

“Is that what you are angry about?”

“There are few things in this galaxy that can work my ire like that of the council. I know we need time to heal and come to terms with your…” He needed to give words to the act, it was needed for healing, “your suicide attempt.”

Ben seemed to shrink into himself even more at the words, his shame filling the room. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t strong enough.”

“Oh my precious one, you have more strength then most people I know. We will both heal from this, but it will take time. Time we unfortunately aren’t being granted. We have been requested by Senator Palpatine to negotiate between the Naboo and the Trade Federation. It would seem that the Federation has set up a blockade on the planet and many people are in danger. I argued for another team but the council in its GREAT wisdom is insisting that we go. I can go alone if you are not truly up to it, but I want you at my side…I need you at my side.” Jard felt the body in his lap tense up and try to withdraw from his, but refused to allow that, he pulled him into a tighter embrace.

“There is no where I’d rather be then by your side, master. I don’t want to disappoint you again.”

“You have never given me reason to be disappointed, my own. I cannot always say the reverse is true. We have must to discuss, but I need to talk with the healers to arrange your release. Our transport will leave later this evening and we have much to do.”

“Yes, Master.”

Obi-Wan stood up from their place on the floor and offered his master a helping hand. The two now stood face to face, Jard viewing the still pale form wishing they had more time, still cursing the senate and council for sending them to Naboo when they both needed time to heal. Just as Dooku was about to say to hell with the council and deny the mission, Mace entered with Qui-Gon two steps behind. “The council has lost its ever lovin’ mind! I just heard the news and I’ll be damned if they are going to send you both in there alone. You may not need it or want it, but we are going with you.” Mace was seething with righteous fury at the council as he pulled both Jard and Obi-Wan into an embrace. “Don’t even think of arguing with me, Master. We were taken off the mission roster to assist you, and that has not changed, if you go, we go.” Mace started to mumble old Korun curses that made his padawan blush.

“Language, my old Padawan.”

“Yes, it’s no more than they deserve. Shall we see that our padawans are released so that we can get this over with?” Mace opened the door, storming out just as quickly as he came with Dooku this time two steps behind. “They sometimes act like an old married couple, don’t you think?” Ben couldn’t help but laugh at the thought, his eyes lighting up as they chuckled together. “I could get addicted to that sound.” Qui-Gon breathed out. Ben turned a deep shade of scarlet at his words and felt something inside him warm for the first time in years. He felt, content, he only hoped that it would last. “Shall we get dressed, I’m sure our Master’s will have to argue with the healers for at least a few minutes.”

“I don’t envy them; Master Healer Vokara Che is scary for just a small twi’lek.”

“You and me both, the last time I was in here with her, she threatened to shave my head if I came in with another concussion. Luckily she must have forgotten that threat!” He ran his hands through the outgrown locks of bronze hair. “I would say that she did you a favor, you look much better with your hair grown out.” Obi-Wan turned to the bed and started to dress as they spoke of nothing important.

“I know I’m due for a cut, but once I’m knighted I’m letting it grow out. My…” Qui-Gon pulled on his tunic and stopped suddenly at the thought of the past. “My mother loved my long hair. She used to pull me on her lap and sing to me while she brushed it every night. I’m not sure what made me think of her, I haven’t…well I haven’t thought much about the past lately, Master keeps telling me to keep my mind on the moment.”

Obi-Wan pulled on his robe and stood to his tallest height, pretending to be prim and proper, “Your focus determines your reality, Padawan.”

Qui-Gon reached out and ruffled the copper spikes at the imitation of both their masters. “It is uncanny how much they are alike. Do you think one day we will tell our padawan’s the same things?” Just as quickly as the smile appeared on Obi-Wan’s lips it disappeared. In this moment, Qui-Gon wished he had kept his mouth shut; he just wanted to see that smile, now and forever.

In the outside hallway, they both heard the loud voices of Mace and Jard competing with Healer Vokara Che; it would seem the woman was in formidable form today. “Shall we go rescue our Masters?” Holding out his hand to Ben, he almost melted when the shy smile lit his face once more and he grasped the offering hand gently. Oh Ben, I never want to see you frown again, the world deserves to see that smile more often.


 

“You have need of me, master?” Bruck kneeled in the darkness before a comm in a lower conference room of the temple. “It would seem that we didn’t just underestimate Kenobi, we now have to deal with Windu and his meddlesome brat. I was told by a source within the temple that they are preparing a transport for Naboo this evening.”

“We had only planned for Dooku and Kenobi, master. Perhaps we should wait until they are sent on a mission alone before we strike against them.”

The snarl that left Sidious’ lips sent Bruck into a submissive bow. “We will do no such thing. I have planned this for years and they will not disturb my plans! You will continue on with your mission. If Kenobi lives past Naboo, you will find your own life forfeit. Do you understand me, my very young apprentice?”

“Y-Yes master, Kenobi’s blood will spill on Naboo.” As the communique closed, Bruck’s icy indigo eyes closed as he thought about everything that had transpired in the years since he was in the creche with Oafy-Wan Kenobi. He had been responsible for him almost not becoming a padawan, he was constantly compared to that no good, pathetic excuse for not only a human being, but a Jedi Padawan. “I will make sure that you do not interfere in my life again Kenobi, and if your boyfriend intervenes, his life will be mine as well.” Bruck left the room and headed for a distant transport that his new master had arranged. It was time for his revenge; it was time to reveal himself to the pathetic Jedi.


 

The transport to Naboo was a bit cramped as they were only prepared for two Jedi, not four. They had settled into the two rooms, Mace suggesting that the two padawans share a room, while the two Masters shared the other. He thought this might allow time for the two younger men to get to know each other again. The force practically glowed around the two when they were close to each other, this is what should have been all those years ago. They should have grown together not grown apart. Obi-Wan should have been returned to the temple to bond with Qui-Gon and other padawans alike. Instead he was allowed to keep running away from not only the friends he craved, but the Jedi that would help ground him. That young boy that he had met all those years ago who deserved so much more than he had received was now just a broken shell and instead of getting help with the mind healers he was sent to yet another set of negotiations instead of healing. The more he thought about the contemptible council, the more he personally wanted to duel each one of them and show them just how dangerous the Vaapad form could be. “Credit for your thoughts, master?” Qui-Gon smiled at the older man. “That’s my line, padawan. I was just thinking about Obi-Wan and Dooku. I’m concerned how this mission is going to affect that precious boy.”

“As long as he has us, he will be ok, Master. I think this assignment might be good for him. The mission is the only thing he’s known for nine years, if he were made to sit and talk to a healer all day, I think perhaps he might just give up again. This gives him something else to focus on, and still work on his problems.”

“How did you get so wise?” Mace chuckled and ruffled his brunette locks. “Oh I do believe it’s almost time for a haircut, you are getting down right shaggy!”

“I don’t understand why the council makes us wear those silly hair styles. I adore the braid, as it is a symbol of our connection, but the rest is downright humiliating!”

“You could have my haircut.” Mace looked deadpan while rubbing his hand over the glistening skin of his scalp.

“Obi! Master Mace was just commenting on how great I would look with his haircut, what do you think?” Ben blanched at the thought and wrinkled his nose before laughing. “Not that it doesn’t look good on you Master Windu, but…Qui-Gon just looks better with hair.”

“No respect, I tell you.” Mace pushed the two younger men towards the galley of the ship for supper. They all came into the room in good spirits and laughing, Dooku had been preparing them all a meal for the evening when he stopped to watch their by play. Obi-Wan’s skin was no longer the pale white, but it had more color then it had in a long time. Ben’s skin was pink with a laughter and happiness that almost made his master ache with longing. Just as they were all about to burst into another chorus of laughter, Ben caught his master’s look and immediately sobered. The grin that plastered his lips a moment before now solemn and completely gone. “I hope that you are hungry, it is not much but I think I managed to make it quite edible.” He motioned them all to the round center table.

Mace caught the by-play between the two and frowned to himself. The boy had been so content and open the moment before, why did he shut down when they were all together. What made him fear his master so much? Coming up behind Jard, Mace pressed his lips to the older man’s ear and whispered, “It’s going to take time, Jard. Don’t let him see your longing, it won’t help him in the end.” Jard just nodded his understanding and continued to serve everyone. They ate in favorable silence except for thanks here and there for a wonderful meal.

“Qui-Gon, would you do me the honor of meditating with me this evening?” Mace reached out for his padawan’s hand, hoping that he understood the reasoning behind the request. “I would be honored, Master. Thank you again for the meal Master Dooku. I will see you before bed, Ben.” He grasped Ben’s hand and gently ran his fingers over the top of his palm, giving him the connection he knew the young man needed at the moment, before turning around and leaving the room with just the two of them and the big bantha in the room.

“If you have no more need for me, Master, I will turn in for the evening.”

“Obi-Wan please have a seat. We need to talk.”

“I’m fine, Master. I’m just really tired and would like to be rested when we reach Naboo tomorrow.” The boy turned toward the door and thought he might have avoided the coming lecture, only to be quickly stopped without a word.

“Padawan.” The silence in the area after that one word was so impenetrable that you didn’t have to be force sensitive to know that things were about to come to a head. “You will sit and we will talk. No more running, Obi.”

“Yes, master.” Obi-Wan sat at the edge of the seat, his eyes not meeting those of the man he had come to love as a father after nine years.

“Obi-Wan, something has been bothering me. I had sensed your concern with us and I had planned to address those issues later that evening. I never detected that it would have been too late at that point. What made you decide to take your life that night? I don’t believe it was something done rationally, but something or someone drove you to it.” Obi-Wan fretted in the seat, his palm sweating as he wanted to do anything but have this conversation right now. Unable to voice the words, he reached out into their pathetic bond and focused on the scene that Bruck had shown him.

“I have a feeling you are not quite finished my master. What is the real reason?”

“There is little in this world that I can deny you. Force help me, but the reason I took him was because you asked me to.”

Obi-Wan recalled the words over and over again every night since then, and tears started flowing down his cheeks as he looked up into the shocked Master’s face. “You didn’t want me. You only took me because Master Windu, your CHOOSEN one asked you to. I’ve worked my ass off for nine years, trying to prove that I was enough, that I was worthy that I was lovable, but I was never good enough for you! I wasn’t Master Windu, I wasn’t Knight Akysha, your previous children were chosen by you, and I was just a burden!” Obi-Wan’s temper had been forming for a while, as he let loose everything upon his master. He sent him his fury, his contempt for the man, his hopelessness and the pain he had felt when the knife cut through his flesh. “You did this to me; you should have just let them send me back to the AgriCorps! You should have just left me to die!”

The blackness started to swirl in the force as his emotions bombarded the older master with each passing moment. “PADAWAN!” Dooku screamed out, the force coming to bare on the young man, as blood started to drip from the bandages that still caressed his wrists. Just as the force shouted in warning at the storm that was about to come, both Mace and Qui-Gon ran back into the room, catching the young padawan before he passed out onto the floor. “Jard, by the gods, what was that?!”

“That was darkness, he’s been touched by it. He’s asleep now and will be for a while. Please get him to the med bay and see to it that his bandages are changed.”

“Will you be ok, Master?”

“It doesn’t matter Qui-Gon. The only thing that matters is that young man that has been wounded so much is protected from the darkness that pursues him. Mace, do you know how Obi-Wan would know about our conversation the night that Qui-Gon was still unconscious?”

“I never spoke to him about it and I never had a moment to speak to Qui-Gon. How would he know what we spoke about, is that what caused him to try and kill himself?” Jard only nodded his head up and down and swiftly shut his eyes to the exhaustion that seemed to overwhelm him. “I’m afraid the Council made a huge mistake this time, Mace.”

“I know that he wasn’t ready for this mission, but we can all get through it together.”

“I’m not talking about the mission, Mace. They should have never let me take that boy as Padawan. I have ruined him and there is no one to blame but myself.”

“Bullshit! Don’t you do this to him. Don’t you fucking dare do this to him! If you abandon him now, we will never get him back. You need to take your own issues and bury them deep down inside and do whatever you must to keep that young man together. I love you more than my own life, Jard. You were my father and then my brother in arms, but right now you are being a selfish bastard and I don’t really like you much right now!” Mace pushed his finger at the older man’s chest, poking just a bit harder with each word.

Jard swallowed his pride and straightened once more. “I won’t let him down, Mace. I, just, had a moment of stupidity.”

“Uh huh, next time you need a swift kick in the ass, be sure to warn me, ok?” Mace’s face lightened just a bit as he offered an apologetic smile.

“I sent a pretty strong sleep compulsion to him; he will be asleep for a while. Shall we go join Qui-Gon and keep watch over Obi?”

“Two steps forward and one step back. It will get better, Jard.”


 

Qui-Gon tenderly set Obi-wan on the open med bed and regarded the injuries that once again were bleeding. Careful not to cause more blood loss, he cut the bandages from the wrists beholding the angry scars. “Oh, Obi…” The words chocked from his mouth as he wanted to kiss away the pain and ugliness of the cuts. Unable to control his emotions, Qui-Gon just let them all loose, his tears streaming down his face as he once again applied bacta laced pressure bandages to each wound.

Once he was finished, he placed a small smooch to each laceration and held them gently against his forehead as he transferred what healing energy he could afford. “Fight this Obi-Wan. Fight the darkness, because I can’t follow you in this.”

Closing his eyes, he reached out into the force and felt the presence that still made him smile. The tree, still lush and flowing back and forth with the wind, sat upon the grassy hill. His Ben was waiting, no worries, no scars, just the beautiful youth that should have always been there.

Chapter Text

The night was lengthy, the ship was chilly, but Qui-Gon still sat next to the medical bed, with his hand enclosed around the pale skin of Obi-Wan’s fingers. Not far from the bed, Mace and Jard slept restlessly in two very uncomfortable chairs, their shoulders and faces showing the toll of their chosen beds. Obi-wan hadn’t woken throughout the night, the sleep suggestion keeping the nightmares at bay for the most part. Qui-Gon had been up most of the night just guarding over the young man, gazing down at his expression, watching his brow furrow now and again as something untoward must have crossed his dreams. When he saw those beautiful features start to wrinkle, he would reach out in the force to help calm the encroaching dreams, turning them to more pleasant thoughts. He usually projected thoughts of their lush hill, where nothing bad could ever touch them, just the wind, the grass at their feet and a calm understanding.

“Qui?” The soft murmur startled Qui-Gon who was lost in his own thoughts. “Ben, how do you feel?”

“T-Thirsty.” Obi-Wan swallowed, trying to clear his throat.

“Just rest, I’ll get you something to drink.” Qui-Gon returned with a small cup and a straw, helping Ben sit up enough to take a sip of the cold water. “Better?”

“Yes, thank you. I. You. Force, what did I do, Qui.”

“What do you remember?”

“Master Dooku wanted to talk; about…He wanted to know why I tried to…” Ben wrestled with his words, wrapping his legs closer to his chest for protection. It truly hurt to see his friend beating himself up so much, Qui-Gon reached out his hand once more to hold on to Ben’s, he wanted to offer the support that he so obviously needed. “I couldn’t control it, Qui. I was so angry at him, but more than that I was angry at myself. I can’t help but think that you and Master Mace made a mistake all those years ago, you should have left me on Bandomeer.”

“Ben, I know things haven’t been going well and I have my own guilt to deal with as well. I feel like if we had stayed in touch, if we had made the effort to meet up…” 

“This isn’t your fault!”

“Let’s just say, that everyone has their own demons and issues to work through, I could tell you that it isn’t your fault either, would you believe me?” Ben looked at Qui-Gon and noticed that he looked tired and his clothes were wrinkled and askew. He appreciated that while their masters slept, Qui-Gon had spent the night watching over him, it was a humbling thought that someone would care for him that way.

“You look tired.” He hurried to change the subject; he wasn’t quite ready to discuss everything that had taken place. “You’re not exactly a diplomat, are you?” Qui-Gon chuckled and smiled shyly at the young man.

“You sound like my master. He said I could be a great negotiator one day if I could learn some diplomacy.”

“And I stand by that statement one hundred percent.” The tired voice behind them mumbled. “How are you feeling, my own?” Jard pushed himself out of the chair, feeling his bones ache from the accommodations. “Master, I’m s-sorry.”

“There is no need to be sorry. We will get through not only this mission but this bump in the road that’s happened between us. Qui-Gon, could you please give Obi-Wan and I a moment, perhaps you could make us some first meal?”

Qui-Gon felt Ben’s hand tighten around his, the fear roiling off him like a storm. “I would be happy to start our meal, but I’m not leaving just yet.” Dooku nodded his head, realizing that Obi-Wan needed an ally at this point in his recovery and he had chosen wisely. “Very well, if Obi wishes you to stay, then we welcome your support.” The grateful shy smile returned to Ben’s lips as he bowed his head, not looking forward to the coming conversation. “Obi, last night you showed me a conversation that Mace and I had while you were watching over Qui-Gon. I don’t know how you came about this knowledge, but it was only half…”

Just as the words left his mouth, an alert came over the comm system. “Master Dooku and Windu, we have arrived at the Naboo Blockade. We have a transmission from the Trade Federation.” Dooku sighed, cursing the council under his breath once more for sending them on this mission instead of letting his padawan heal. “I’m sorry young one, this conversation will have to be continued at a later time, but trust me, this is not over. We will speak about the incident and we will heal together, Obi-Wan. I haven’t given you much reason to trust in me, but I promise we will get through this together.” Dooku ran his hand gently over Obi-Wan’s cheek before he turned to look at Mace. “Shall we get this mission over with?”

“I have a bad feeling about this, Jard. I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as we might wish.”

“Jedi and their bad feelings, I don’t think I will ever get you or any padawan in my care to focus on the moment.” The two Jedi quickly moved from the room and headed toward the cockpit.

“Open the transmission, please, Captain.”

The communication console in front of them commenced and showed a miniature vision of Viceroy Nute Gunray of the Trade Federation. “Master Jedi, we are honored that the Jedi were chosen to negotiate between us and the Naboo. We extend an invitation to join us and we can begin to discuss matters.”

“We appreciate your offer and we look forward to a peaceful outcome for both the Trade Federation and the Naboo. At this time however, you will allow us passage through your blockade so that we can land on Naboo.” Mace gave his old master a strange look; it was typical to talk to the aggressor first in these types of situations. Dooku just gave a small smile knowing his old student would wonder what he was up to. “This is highly against our…”

“You will allow us to pass through the blockade or these negotiations are over and we will tell the senate our opinion of your motives.”

“There is no need; we will allow you to land. We look forward to meeting with you soon to bring this to an end.” As the last word left his mouth, the transmission was disconnected.

“Master, what are you doing?”

“Something isn’t right in all this. The force is telling me that we must speak to the Queen of Naboo first. This matter all took root over taxation for the free trade areas. Doesn’t a blockade of this magnitude over taxes seem a bit…much?” Dooku ran his hands through his greying hair, wanting nothing more than to have this mission over to let Obi-Wan heal.

Mace just observed the older master for a moment, letting his eyes close as he reached out in the force and felt the tension from the planet below. “You are right, something in the force is not quite right, however it is so faint, that I can barely get a read on it.”

“Captain, we shall be heading for the planet.”

“Yes, sir.”

Back in the med center, Obi-Wan had gotten out of the med bed and changed into new tunics, in preparation of their mission. He felt more rested then he had in ages, but he was still disturbed by the night before. The darkness had never felt so close than in that moment. Why did he keep letting Dooku down, why was he such a screw up?

“Mace just sent word that we will be heading for the planet. They want to speak with the Queen before we meet with the Trade Federation. He has asked us to keep our senses on the Queen’s entourage for any sense of malice or deception.” Obi-Wan just nodded at the words. “Obi…Ben? I know this situation isn’t ideal, but you aren’t alone, you have me and our master’s.” He laid his hand gently on Ben’s shoulder and felt the tremble of the younger man, the connection between the two flaring to life.

“Qui, what is…?” Just as quickly as the connection flowed through them both the comm unit came to life alerting them to the upcoming landing. Qui-Gon removed his hand and just gave a warm smile to his companion, knowing that it was time to put the personal feelings away and see to the mission, lives were at stake. They both just nodded to the other and quickly departed the room, their robes billowing out behind them. They arrived at the exit ramp of the transport; their masters were waiting and nodded to the young apprentices. The padawans took their appointed positions two steps behind as they presented a calm presence to anyone that would look upon them.

“Welcome to Naboo, Master Jedi. We only wish we could say that it was under better circumstances. I’m governor of Naboo, Sio Bibble, I will bring you to Queen Amidala she wishes to speak with you at once.” The older man turned to lead the Jedi into the enormous palace.

There is darkness here, it is very hard to detect and it’s being carefully hidden, but I can feel it. Keep your sense alert, my padawan. Jard sent his thoughts to Obi-Wan and was glad that the bond was somewhat open, even if his feelings were still tightly controlled.

Yes, my master. Obi-Wan sent back. He tensed somewhat as he took in the words of his master. What if the darkness that he’s sensing is coming from me, what if I’ve already fallen? Obi-Wan tightly shielded these thoughts from his companions as they walked to the chamber where the Queen awaited them.

You are now mine. Your master will soon sense the darkness inside you. Stop fighting your nature. You were meant for more than the Jedi.

That voice rang inside his head once more; he just wanted it to go away.

You can’t stop the voice of your conscience, young one. The more you fight, the more I win.

Qui-Gon looked on at the pale features of the padawan next to him and directed a tendril of reassurance and support. Just as the first wisp reached him through the force, the sinister voice was drowned out. The confusion and darkness no longer lingering over him, Obi-Wan almost forgot their mission and let out a sigh of relief but quickly recovered and sent his gratitude to Qui-Gon.

“Ser Jedi!” The young voice rang out in the empty court. They were immediately approached by a young girl dressed in fancy gowns and adorned as Royalty should be, however her demeanor was not that of the queen at the moment, just a resident of a planet that needed their help desperately. “Your highness, we are sorry to meet under such circumstance. My name is Master Jard Dooku; my associates are Master Mace Windu, our padawans Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn. We were sent by the senate to try and negotiate between you and the Trade Federation and avoid any loss of life on both sides.”

“We are so pleased to have you on Naboo. We were under the impression that you would be meeting with the Viceroy first, but we were heartened by the fact that you have come to our aid first. This blockade is illegal and should be immediately condemned as such by the senate and dispersed.” The young lady couldn’t be more than fourteen years old, yet she had an entire planet’s well-being on her shoulders, Dooku was impressed by her determination.

“That is what we are here to determine. I would suggest we head to your communication room and open a channel with Viceroy Gunray. The sooner we open the lines of communication the sooner we can come to some sort of agreement, the sooner the Naboo can once again live in peace.” The queen’s guard, Captain Panaka led them all to a smaller room. They all settled into the room and opened a channel to the Trade Federation capital ship. “We welcome the start of negotiations; however the Viceroy shall need a few more minutes.” The robotic voice echoed off the walls of the room.

Just as Dooku was about to speak the force undulated and shrieked out as the lives aboard the Jedi ship were suddenly silenced. Mace immediately leapt to his feet, the padawans not far behind as they circled the young Queen for protection, the force was shouting with the pain of death and warning as the seconds ticked on. “What is going on?” Panaka yelled out for his own guards to surround the queen.

“Something…” Dooku was about to say when the communication array started to cut out and the transmission faded out.

“What happened to the transmission?”

“All transmissions are being blocked, your Highness.”

Mace shook his head slightly, “That can only mean one thing. This isn’t about taxation or negotiations. This is about invasion. We need to get the Queen off planet and back to Coruscant.”

“I’m not leaving my people!” Queen Amidala looked at the older master like they had lost their minds.

“That is an admirable trait to not want to leave those that you feel responsible for, however if they catch you, then the invasion will have been successful and we lose any hope of turning the tide here, your highness.” Dooku projected a calm and sure voice that Mace was used to hearing when trying to smooth emotions.

“My Queen, the Jedi are right. This is our only hope. I will stay and make sure our people are not harmed.” Governor Bibble laid a calming hand on the young lady’s shoulder.

“Very well, but I don’t like this. How do you plan on getting us around the blockade?”

“We need your best ship, with faith in the force, this will succeed.” Just as the words left Dooku’s lips the palace alarms went off.

“They have breached the palace; we must hurry if we are going to make this work.” Panaka started to lead everyone to the Queen’s own transport. The doors opened to reveal a compliment of droids with blasters at the ready. Just as quickly as the door opened, the four Jedi ignited their sabers and dispatched the threat.

“Lead the way, we must leave now!” Dooku kicked one of the metal arms out of the way.  They worked their way through the corridors, the Jedi offering protection from the droids along the way. When they reached the hanger, it was filled with several droid details. The four Jedi swept into the hanger, the Master’s each taking one detail and the two padawans dispatching the third that was overseeing a batch of prisoners that included many technicians and pilots. The sparks flew from the droids that had been little more than fodder for the lightsabers that sliced through them. 

As the droids were dispatched, the Queen sought out the pilot, Ric Olie and had him enter the Naboo Royal Starship to prepare for take-off. The J-type 327 Nubian vessel while it had no weapons, it had a strong shield that would hopefully assist them in getting past the blockade and a hyper drive component that would get them to Coruscant as quickly as possible.  

As the last of their accompaniment ran on board, Dooku and Windu stood on the ramp, their lightsabers at the ready, blocking the incoming blasts from more droid arrivals. “Get us out of here, NOW!” Mace shouted back as the ship started to ascend toward the skies, the two masters ran up the ramp just as the transport doors shut, barely breathing heavy from the encounter. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon escorted the Queen and her handmaiden’s to the living area so that they could strap in for safety. One of the hand-maidens glanced at the two with interest as they seemed to know just where to go and what to do. “We will be fine, Ser Jedi. I’m sure you are needed on the bridge.”

“If you are sure, Lady…?” Qui-Gon smiled.

“I am Padme Naberrie, one of the Queen’s hand –maidens. Please just call me Padme.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Padme, I’m Qui-Gon and this, this is Obi-Wan.” Qui-Gon, ever the diplomat, took the young ladies hand in his and kissed it gently. Ben almost froze at the sight, suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to pull those lips from her skin. Looking back at the suddenly pale Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon gave a concerned look to him. “I, um…It’s a pleasure to meet you. Hopefully we will have you to Coruscant soon and your people will once again be safe.” Ben turned from the two and headed out the door quickly towards the cockpit. He had no idea where the jealousy was coming from, but he tried to bury it deep before anyone could sense it. “Forgive me, your Highness and Padme, Obi-Wan is just concerned for the mission.”

“Nothing to forgive, the last thing we need to worry about at this moment is appearances, wouldn’t you agree?”

Qui-Gon just nodded in response and bowed. “Strap in, this could be a bumpy ride.” Qui-Gon arrived in the cockpit just behind Obi-Wan who was just staring out into the star streaked blackness ahead of them, the concerned look on Qui’s face only noticed by the two Master’s.

Is he ok, young one? Mace reached out to his padawan.

As fine as one can be when they haven’t yet healed. We just need to give him some space, my master.

Qui-Gon walked behind his Ben and let his hand discreetly entwine those of the shorter man, their hands brushing together under their robe sleeves. The touch of skin immediately allowed Obi-Wan to calm his nerves and settle his emotions from Qui-Gon’s encounter with Padme. A smile was offered, the darkness for the moment fleeing.

“This craft was designated as an Ambassador ship, it wasn’t meant for battle, Master Windu!” Ollie looked ahead at the massive armada that the Trade Federation had amassed for its blockade and blanched at the thought that they wouldn’t survive this encounter. “We have no weapons, and our shields will only hold out for so long.” Dooku closed his eyes for a moment and let the force guide him as everyone on the bridge waited for their orders. He opened his eyes after a few moments and pointed just to the starboard side of the craft. “There, a weakness to exploit. That is where we will make our break through. You will need to make sure that our shields stand for as long as possible. We will make it through this.”

Ric Ollie just nodded to the older man, and prayed that they weren’t putting their lives in the hands of a lunatic. “Brace yourself, here we go.” The ship picked up speed, the shields holding as the blockade started to fire upon the rogue ship. They were just about to pass the blockade vessel when an errant shot got through the defenses and connected with the cruiser. The ship rocked and those standing grabbed on to the walls, in hopes of not falling over. “Damage report?”

“We’ve lost access to the hyper drive!” One of the other pilots shouted over the alarms. “Send out the R2 units. We won’t last much longer against these blasts if we don’t get into hyper.” The minutes seemed to tick on as each blast to the shields made them weaken just a bit more. “Shields are only barely holding, if that droid doesn’t get the hyper…” Just as the pilot was about to finish their sentence, the ship burst into hyperspace, leaving the blockade behind. “We won’t make it to Coruscant with the damage we’ve sustained. We will need to find replacement parts.” Ric turned to the Jedi with concern written all over his face.

Dooku moved to a nearby map and brought up the systems. “Tatooine, they have a strong Hutt presence, but that should make it easier to blend in. We should be able to get the parts we need there.”

“They do not take Republic credits, master.” Obi-Wan spoke softly. “We will make due my young one.” Dooku nodded to the pilot to make a course correction and headed to the Queen to inform her. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan left the pilots, finding themselves alone in the galley. “Just say it.” Obi-Wan turned around, with almost a growl on his lips. “Say what?”

“You all think I’m going to break at any minute. You are constantly watching and waiting and I’m terribly sick of it.” Obi-Wan could feel the anger and bitterness rising within him once more and didn’t want to allow it to win again.

They all think you are weak, He is waiting for the moment he can expose you to the Masters. He is waiting on the moment he can get rid of you to spend some time with that lovely hand-maiden.

Ben closed his eyes and tried to not hear the voice that taunted him daily. He wasn’t jealous, he didn’t want to yell at his master, his friend, and he needed to gain control. “Ben, you can trust me. Please tell me what is going on?” Qui-Gon pleaded as he gazed into the hallow eyes below him.

“There is nothing going on, Qui. I just need to be alone. I’ll be on the space deck meditating if anyone needs me.” Ben turned and walked away quickly. He was losing his mind and he couldn’t let anyone know.

“Oh Ben, I wish you knew that you didn’t have to do this alone.” Qui-Gon settled on his knees in the galley, knowing he needed to meditate over his own emotions.


 

As the ship changed course for a little known outer rim plant known as Tatooine the dark figure and his apprentice spoke over a communication channel. “They are headed to Tatooine. Be sure to send a transmission to the Hutts to let them know that they are NOT to interfere with our prey.” Bruck smiled sinisterly at his master. He was no longer the clean cut, white haired Jedi padawan. He had undergone a massive transformation at the hands of his dark master. Gone was the hair upon his head, in its place grafted horns of the Zabarak. The tan skin which was once flawless and pristine was now covered in tattoos of red and black. He was no longer Bruck Chun, he was apprentice to the Dark Lord of the Sith, he was Darth Maul. Maul gazed at his master from the kneeling position, his voice calm and calculated. “At last we will reveal ourselves. At last we will have our revenge.”

Chapter Text

Qui-gon gradually emerged from his meditation, feeling all the better for the moments of peace within the force. His focus had been on his friend and how to better help him find his own peace. While the force didn’t offer the answer on a silver platter it did guide him to look within himself for the healing needed. He slowly rose from his knees and stretched his body. He turned around, ready to find Ben so they could possibly talk about a few things, but he was instead met by the young hand-maiden from Naboo. “M’Lady, did you need something?”

“No, I’m sorry to disturb you, it’s just. You looked so peaceful; I’ve never seen such a thing.”

Qui-Gon grinned down at her, knowing that many people were curious when they saw the Jedi. “I was just meditating. Something anyone can do, really. You don’t have to be force sensitive to seek your center and calm your mind.”

Padme’s eyes narrowed and her face seemed to try to hide her sadness. “I am beginning to feel like calm is something I will never see again. The Queen is so troubled for her people’s lives, and now we might not even make it to Coruscant.”

“I know it is probably exceedingly hard for you to trust in people you barely know, but Master Dooku and Master Windu will get you to the Senate. We will help save your people.” He soothingly took her small hand in his and flashed her a smile that could make anyone feel better.

“I will hold you to that, Qui-Gon. Our people must be set free.” Her grin faded once again and she looked suddenly a lot younger as tears fell down her cheeks.

“It’s ok to let your emotions out; to keep them in will drive you mad.” He whispered as he pulled her closer to give her a comforting hug. His body was so much bigger than hers; she seemed to almost disappear into his embrace. “It will be ok, Padme. Just let it out.” As he rocked back and forth to console a very upset teenager, he felt a stab of jealousy through the force and looked up into the stormy-grey eyes of Obi-wan for a moment before the pale young man turned and stalked from the room. Unable to soothe both at the moment, he continued to send calm to the young lady in his arms until her sobs finally quieted down. She pushed gently away from the warmth of his arms and wiped at her cheeks, suddenly feeling very embarrassed for her lack of control. “It’s ok, Padme. You are still young, and you are human. You are allowed to have emotions and sometimes let them out. Will you be ok?”

She straightened her clothes and nodded her head slightly, still unsure of her voice at the moment. After a few moments of silence between the two she finally looked up into his eyes and gave him a weak smile. “Thank you, Qui-Gon. I am ashamed that I broke down, but I am grateful that you were there to help. I should see that the Queen is seen to, I shall see you later. 

Just as the young hand-maiden left the room, Qui-Gon stalked from the room, in search of Ben, knowing that they needed to have a serious talk, they had let this linger between them for long enough and things needed to be said. He had to only extend his senses somewhat to find the bright spot in the force that was one Obi-Wan Kenobi, a brilliant light that he wanted nothing more than to protect no matter what.

Space was not a pleasant place for Qui-Gon, he found it cold and unfeeling as he was so tightly bound in the living force, and he missed the feeling of life in the vastness of that blackness. As he reached out for Ben and followed his aura to a small storage compartment he didn’t feel so empty, he felt strangely filled with warmth. There was something between them and there had been since they had met nine years prior, something that had lay waiting for a time when they were ready to acknowledge such a thing. The force almost responded with a resounding sense of rightness in his thoughts.

He approached the door to the storage compartment and it slid open to reveal a kneeling padawan, his eyes red and his skin pale white. “Please go away, I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to think. I don’t want to FEEL anymore. Please just, let me go…”

Qui-Gon quickly sunk to his knees just in front of his Ben, refusing to leave him in the dark once more. “I would do anything for you, Ben, but I won’t do that. You’ve been alone enough, inside your own thoughts for far too long.” He reached out and gently stroked his cheek, feeling the cool flesh beneath his finger sudden warm. “You know that I was only giving her comfort.”

“I’m not sure why I reacted that way; it just hurt so much to see.”  

“She is far too young for me and even if she wasn’t she has one major flaw that I couldn’t get past.” The fingers that caressed Ben’s cheek slowly drifted down just a bit further to the full lips that he suddenly had an urge to taste. Ben trembled at the soft touch against his skin, “What flaw would that be?”

“She is not you.”

“Oh.” He let out a soft sigh as the fingers trailed gently down to his chin, bringing him just a bit closer to the warmth he craved. “I would do nothing to hurt you, Ben.” Just as the words escaped on whispered breath, Qui-Gon leaned over and gently pressed their lips together in a soft sweet first kiss. It was not filled with passion, or with intensity, but a promise of a future to come. The bond that had once lain dormant for years suddenly came to life between the two, each feeling the other that knelt before them. Ben had felt the concern, warmth and love that Qui-Gon had for him as if they were his own, just as Qui-Gon had felt the embarrassment of being jealous over young Padme, but the underlying love and longing from his Ben. Yes, that is what Obi-Wan was, his.

As they pulled apart from both the physical and mental touching, they took a deep breath and just took in the moment. “Are you ok, Ben? I feel like we’ve been building to this moment, but with everything that has happened in the last few weeks, I wish to not add to your pain.”

“Please tell me you meant it…” The pain in those words brought Qui-Gon forward once more, wrapping the smaller man in his embrace tightly. “Don’t you ever doubt that you mean everything to me. I was so scared when I thought I had lost you, when…I thought you had killed yourself.” The tears started to stream down his cheeks as he held tighter and tighter to him, only to push him away to grasp his arms and reveal the still bandage wrists. “I haven’t been that scared since I lost my mother and was left on my own.  Why did you do it, Obi?” He gently took his left wrist and brought it up to his lips and pressed a chaste kiss upon the scar he knew to be underneath.

“I. It was nothing and everything. Since the day Master Dooku had taken me on as a Padawan I have felt un…unworthy. I was accepted as a favor to your master, I was just a burden to him.” Qui-Gon sat down on the cold floor and leaned against a nearby crate, his arms turning Ben and bringing him to rest against his broad chest, knowing it would be easier for him to talk without having to look in anyone’s eyes. “I worked so hard to make him proud, I even told him I didn’t need to return to the temple because he dreaded returning and preferred his outer rim missions. I’ve been alone for so long, Qui. I’m so tired. Tired of being alone, of trying to prove myself, of just living, why can’t I just rest?”

“I know at the time, you felt no other option, but it’s a very permanent solution and one that would leave this word weeping at the loss.”

“Now I just feel foolish. I couldn’t even do that right.”

“Obi, what truly happened to push you? I sense that there was a specific incident that brought this all to a head.”

“I was watching over you while Jard took Mace to clean up and eat. He looked as if he was the one that needed Bacta after watching over you for days. I stayed behind so I could let them know if anything changed; well that and I just needed to see that you were ok.”

“I’m sorry that I worried you.” Ben felt the arms tighten around his chest, pulling him closer to the solid body behind him. “Unless you purposely ended up in bacta, it wasn’t your fault. I had settled in to keep watch and Bruck came in.” Qui-Gon quickly tamped down his anger at the mention of Obi-Wan’s boyhood bully, knowing this was truly where the problem lay. “He taunted me of course, because well he wouldn’t be Bruck if he didn’t. Then he told me that my master never wanted me. He said that he stopped by Mace’s quarters to give us a council summons, but instead he overheard Master Dooku tell your master that he only took me as a padawan as a favor to Mace. He…He even showed me the scene, it was real.”

Qui-Gon could feel the trembling in the smaller body and knew the tears were falling. “I’m sure that isn’t true, Obi. Master Dooku loves you; you didn’t see him when he found you. I’ve never seen a man turn old before my eyes, but he looked as if he would follow you into the force had you died.”

Obi-Wan tensed at Qui-Gon’s words, not wanting to think of his master’s feelings at this moment. “I felt no deceit from Bruck, it was a true memory. Since then, I have had felt anger and sadness and…darkness. Qui, I’m scared it is too late for me. I felt the same darkness on Bandomeer and I’m scared it never left, it just waited for the right time to take me.” 

“Do you trust me, Obi?”

“With my very soul.”

“We will fight this together, you are not alone.” Obi-wan took the words and held on to them, feeling suddenly lighter in spirit than he had felt in years. He felt like finally he had an ally to fight the darkness, something, no someone to fight for.

Foolish boy, he will betray you, he will tell your master that you are weak fool.

Just as the voice started to speak to him once again, he felt the force itself wrap around his body and push the thoughts away. “How long, Obi?”

“Wh-What?”

“How long have you heard that voice, how long has it been feeding you those dark thoughts?”

“Y-You heard them?”

“It was faint, but I was able to get the meaning behind them. You need to tell your master, something…”

“NO! I will be sent to the council, they will say I’ve turned, I will be expelled, Please Qui-Gon, please don’t tell them!” The man had turned in his arms and was practically clawing at his body in a sudden panic.

“BEN! It’s ok…I promise it will be ok.” Wrapping his arms around the panicked body he pulled him closer, hoping to keep him from re-injuring himself. “Please just calm down a bit for me, breath. That’s it, just breath. It’s just me and you.” The panic attack that had come up so quickly started to subside as Ben listened to the thrumming heartbeat of the man beneath him. “You need to speak to Master Dooku, but it need not be now. We have a mission to attend, but after that you need to heal this rift between you, it is the only way to heal, my Ben.” He stroked the soft hair, and felt the body in his arms suddenly relax and slip into an exhausted sleep.

Padawan, is everything ok? I didn’t mean to intrude but we both felt your agitation.

Yes, my master.I would hide little from you, so I ask that you respect that we will speak of this when Obi is ready?

You have our trust, my own. Know that when you need us we will be there and that we love you both as family.

Thank you, Master. Obi-wan fell asleep, I’m going to let him rest, and he needs it. How much longer before we reach Tatooine?

We have about five hours, I will call if we need you, rest in the force young one.

Settling his back against the crate once more he cradled Ben in his arms, placed a sweet kiss upon his head and closed his eyes to join him in sleep; soon enough duty would pull them from this moment.

Chapter Text

Obi-wan came awake slowly, his senses for the moment wrapped up tightly against the warm body embracing him. His eyes fluttered gradually open, letting his mind assess the situation that led to him being in the arms of the man he was slowly becoming to depend on. He tried not to move, hearing the silent breaths of sleep coming from Qui-Gon. There had been so many years of silence between them and yet it felt like only yesterday they had saved one another from Xanatos and Qui-Gon’s father, but now here they were cuddled up in a storage closet, hiding away from their mission. “The mission!” Obi-Wan shot up from his position, his body cramping from the uncomfortable bed on the steel floor.

“Ben?” Qui-Gon opened his sleepy eyes, and focused them on the surprised face above him. “What’s wrong, Obi?”

“The mission, our Masters…How could we, just..kiss…sleep…I’ll fail him again.” Qui-Gon used his large body to pull the lithe younger man back into his empty arms. “You have failed in nothing. We were exhausted and needed the sleep. We can’t complete our mission if we are dead on our feet. Our masters knew where we were and told us rest until we reached Tatooine.” Lifting his head so their eyes could meet once more, he continued to stare at Ben until he saw understanding regain control over his doubts. “I’m…sorry. I seem to always be using that word.”

“You have nothing to ask forgiveness about. We will fight this together, you are not alone. You have me and most importantly you have your Master. He will not give up on you and you should not give up on yourself, or him.”

“Perhaps, but it won’t matter much if the Council finds out about the voice and the darkness that I felt. They will dismiss me and it will reflect on Master Dooku.” Qui-gon sat up a bit straighter as he embraced the smaller paler hand inside his own. He felt the pulse beat beneath and closed his eyes. “Ben, close your eyes for me.” Obi-Wan gave him a strange look and wanted to pull away. “Trust me, close your eyes.” The stormy-grey eyes closed hesitantly and listened to the warmth in the voice, another voice in the darkness but this one quite different. “Reach out with your mind and embrace the force, but do not search in the future of the unifying force. It is not easy for you to live in this moment as the future always calls to you, but I want you to reach out with your mind and connect to me. Feel the breath of my lungs, the very water in my cells that give me life.” Qui-gon smiled as he felt a small tug on his conciseness and knew that the aura was that of the man he cared for deeply. “That’s it My Ben, reach out to me and feel the life, the trust, the force. Take a breath and let it flow out slowly, let my essence go and reach out to your master in the same way.”

Suddenly Qui-gon felt Ben’s aura turn from a soft greenish blue to an agitated yellow, trying to find anywhere else to go then Dooku. “It’s ok Ben, he would never hurt you. He loves you, please reach for him, he is there if you just try.”

“Yoda wouldn’t like that…” Ben tried to hide his embarrassment and nervousness with the humor.

The darkness once again started to close in on the younger padawan, his body starting to tremble in fear. “There can be no fear in trust, reach for him, Obi-Wan, this is just the first step to healing.” Just as the young boy felt his heart was going to burst, he let everything go, his fear of rejection, his fear of not being worthy and reached out for the older Master that was settled on the bridge with Mace and the pilot Ric Ollie.

The two masters were seated and talking to each other when suddenly Dooku stopped mid-sentence and smiled at Mace, a bright smile that Mace thought would never again appear. “What is it Jard?”

“Obi-Wan…” The whisper was so light that he almost didn’t hear it. Dooku felt the emotions of his padawan for the first time in years and maybe for the first time ever. It was like a damn had burst and he was finally allowed into the secret chamber that held all the secrets that made up one Obi-Wan Kenobi. As quickly as it came, it was gone. The smile that lit the older face suddenly frowned as he felt his young charge withdraw once more. “Oh, how I’ve failed him Mace. We should not have come on this mission. I should have insisted, I should have fought to stay. I should have left the damn order with that boy in tow if need be.”

With a hushed voice, “Should of, could of, it’s all in the past now. We must finish the mission, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t healing in this trip. I think Qui-Gon is helping and trying to bridge the gap between you two. Let him help. It’s not going to happen all at once, you must have patience.” Mace laid a gentle hand on his shoulder and gave him an impertinent smile. “My master taught me that through patience and the force, anything is possible.”
“Brat…” Jard smiled and closed his eyes, remembering the emotion and thoughts Obi-Wan had sent him just minutes before. There was so much doubt and fear, but underneath all that was such a bright light that yearned for acceptance and love.

It will be alright, my own. Thank you so much for sharing yourself, even for a brief moment. I know you don’t believe me, but I am proud to be your master. There isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t deserve that praise, Obi-wan. I am sorry that we let this go for so long. Dooku sent his thoughts to Obi-wan, wanting to give “voice” to what happened between them.

I’m sorry, my master. I’m not ready for more, but…I’m trying. Dooku could hear the faint hesitation in the thoughts, but he was grateful for the start.

We will go at the pace that you need, Obi-Wan. Do not fret; we will be stronger for this in the end. I promise. It looks like we are about to approach Tatooine, if you and Qui-Gon would join us on the bridge, my young one.

Yes, master. We are on our way.

Obi-wan opened his eyes, the tears hiding his view. Qui-gon reached out gently and wiped away the tears on his cheeks, his lips unable to hide the smile. “That…” Obi-wan began but Qui-gon interrupted, “That was the living force. I know you aren’t grounded much in it, but if you can reach out for it and try to center it can help bring some peace to the demons that have gotten hold of you.”

“We are coming up on Tatooine. Master Dooku wants us on the bridge, we should probably get going.”

They both stood and stretched out their legs from the ill-advised sleeping positions. Obi-Wan looked up suddenly and his face was shadowed by deep thought and doubts. Where did they go from here after last night’s kiss. Oh that kiss was something he didn’t want to forget. Biting his lower lip, he turned in embarrassment, ready to leave for the bridge when he was suddenly pulled back into the storage room. “We won’t be forgetting…” Qui-Gon reached his hand gently around the back of his neck and drew him closer to the tall solid body. This was different from the first kiss, that sweet touch of lips and taste. This was a kiss filled with a promise and passion of a future they had yet to write. Obi-Wan opened his lips slightly, tasting the sweetness and tea that was Qui-Gon, their tongues entwining into a deeper kiss that left them both breathing just a bit heavier. A soft moan was heard as they pulled apart and looked into each other’s eyes, seeing not only the passion but something more. “We are Jedi first, but second...” Qui-Gon trailed off as he let his hand run gently down the stubbled cheek of the man that was becoming the world to him.

As the two padawan’s entered, Mace and Jard turned to see a slight flush to their skin and gave a knowing glance to each other. “We are about to land. As you well remember from our last mission to this miserable dust ball, Obi-Wan, the Hutts control the planet. Republic credits will be of no use to us here, so we might have to get…creative.” Dooku smiled at his apprentice; feeling him snap back into the role of perfect padawan, perfect Jedi. “It’s not going to be easy to come by the parts we need to fix the ship without a form of currency to bargain with, my master. If we start making inquiries, it could get the attention of Jabba and your last dealings with him might not ingratiate us with him this time.” There was almost a teasing quality to his speech, something that he hadn’t seen since Obi-Wan was a boy, and it was such a pleasure to see once more.

“Yes, well, it wasn’t my fault that he sent such weak willed lackeys to obtain his goods.”

“He’s not likely to forget that instead of a shipment of spice, he was brought your yearly supply of tea, my master.” Mace let out a chuckle that startled the two. “I think it would be wise than to avoid this Jabba the Hutt. We are going to be landing shortly, just outside of Mos Eisley. Someone will need to stay back with the Queen and the ship for protection.” Mace looked back at the young padawans, “Obi-Wan, you are going to stay here and start repairs on the hyper drive. Contact us immediately for anything out of the ordinary; we must protect the Queen and her entourage at all costs.”

“Yes, Master.” His eyes immediately fell to the deck of the ship feeling as if he was being left behind because they didn’t trust him. “None of that, young one. You are being left here because you have a mechanical knowledge that Qui-Gon just doesn’t possess. You are being left here because we trust you to take care of the Queen.” Feeling chastised for his thoughts, Obi-Wan looked up with pink cheeks. “I understand, Master Windu. I will get started.”

Dooku brought Obi-Wan to the side and spoke quietly, “You are not being punished young one. Your place is at my side and always will be, but Mace is right, you are the best choice. We will stay in contact once we have the new parts.”

“I understand, my master. Please stay safe, we almost didn’t make it off this god forsaken planet once.” Dooku watched as his padawan left the bridge, having a bad feeling once more.

“Master Dooku, Master Mace.” They both turned at the voice of the young hand-maiden, Padme’. “We were just about to contact the Queen, we will be going into a nearby town to try to get the parts we need to fix the ship and then make our way back to Coruscant.”

“The Queen has expressed her desire for me to accompany you into town. She wants more information on this planet; she hasn’t had many dealings with planets outside the Republic, I’m to gather more information for her.”

“Indeed, the Queen has requested. I would prefer that everyone stay on the ship for your own protection.” Dooku gave a knowing look to Mace who nodded in return.

“I follow the Queen’s orders and that includes accompanying you into town.” She set her features and Qui-Gon couldn’t help but smirk at the stubbornness she possessed. She had no fear of the Jedi, masters or not. “Very well, Padme’. I do not agree with her orders, but stay close to us; this isn’t a pleasant planet to get lost on.”


 

All three Jedi wrapped their robes around them, hiding the Jedi tunics underneath, knowing they would have to find proper clothing to cover them once in Mos Eisley. They didn’t want to advertise just who and what they were. Qui-Gon disappeared into a worn clothing shop with all three robes, and came back out with three oversize ponchos that were made of some rough, worn out material. “When we get back to the temple, you are asking the Quartermaster for new robes, Master. He said next time we could live without robes if we lost one more set.” Dooku raised an eyebrow towards Mace and chuckled. “He couldn’t hold onto his robe when he was a padawan either, that’s why he sent you. The quartermaster threatened to give him a pink robe next time he lost one.” Padme’ watched the by-play between the three and smiled, this wasn’t the stoic and stuffy Jedi that she was told to expect in her briefing, it was a relief to see they were just people.

“With that taken care of, we should find the parts we need, then we can worry about the money we will need to buy it.” He gestured to a shop down the row that had metal and crates outside and behind it. “I think we should start there.” As they approached the shop, they noticed a young boy tinkering outside with some repairs. His blonde hair bleached by the twin suns of the planet, he looked to be no older than nine years old. Qui-gon approached the young boy, figuring he would be less intimidating then his older masters. “Greetings. We are looking for some parts for our ship. We need a new hyper-drive generator for a Nubian J-type 327, would you happen to know where we could find one.” The boy looked up from his tinkering, keeping the sun from his eyes to look up at the taller man. “That’s not a normal ship that makes it around these parts, sir. However if it’s to be found anywhere on planet, it would be here. I’ll take you inside to speak with Watto, he owns this shop.” The polite boy hopped off his seat and ran inside screaming, “Watto, we got a customer!” Qui-Gon laughed at the young boy’s demeanor and remembered his own growing up, being just as outspoken before Mace found him. “Thank you…”

“Name is Anakin, Anakin Skywalker.”

“Thank you, Anakin. Qui-Gon Jinn.” He offered his hand to the young boy who stared at it slightly before shaking.

“Aaaaahhh! Welcome to Watto's shop, eh? Take a look around. I've got everything you need, eh?” All three Jedi turned to look at the Toydarian flying towards them in welcome, his small wings making him look like an overgrown blue hummingbird. Qui-Gon started to go through the junk, pulling out pieces here and there that they needed besides the hyper-drive. Mace pulled aside Watto to speak of hyper-drive part they needed.

Padme walked around the cluttered shop, coming closer to Anakin, smiling and picking through the different parts as if she truly belonged with the group.

“Are you an angel?” The little boy looked up at Padme with a look of awe.

“What?”

“An angel? I’ve heard the deep space pilots talk of them. They live on the moons of Iego, I think. They are the most beautiful creatures in the universe. They are good and kind, and so pretty they make even the most hardened spice pirate cry.”

“I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of an angel.”

“Well you must be one; you just don’t know it yet.”

She looked down at the funny little boy, not sure how to respond. “How did you come to know so much about spice pirates?”

“Since I was a little kid, Mom and I were sold to Gardulla the Hutt. She had a lot of interactions with pirates, but then we were lost in a podrace bet and given to Watto.” He shrugged and continued to walk with the young girl around the shop.

“You’re a slave?” She looked at him with a look or horror upon her face.

“I’m a person, my name is Anakin!” He stood tall as he almost scolded her.

“I’m sorry, this world is so strange to me, and there are no slaves on my planet.”

“That’s ok; you’re strange to me too.” Dooku and Qui-Gon tried to hide their smirk at the by play.

Outside, Mace was looking through the junk with Watto when he heard him exclaim, “T-14 Hyper-drive! I knew I had one, this will work, but I would think you could buy a whole ship for the price. How you going to pay for all this?” He turned and eyed the dark skin man. “I have 20,000 Republic credits.”

“Republic credits are no good on the outer rim, you have something else?”

“Republic credits will work fine.”

“No they won’t. And I’m the only one that has this part on planet.” Just as Mace laid a heavy mind trick on the Toydarian, Dooku and Qui-Gon came around the corner and chuckled. “We will be back with what is needed; can you just hold that hyper-drive for us, Watto?” Dooku smoothed out the ruffled feathers. “You’re friend here thinks he’s some kind of Jedi!” Watto turns to leave, muttering under his breath about republic credits. “Toydarians are immune to force persuasion; I probably should have mentioned that.” Dooku smacked Mace on the back and turned back to think on their situation. Padme looked at the boy and smiled, “It was a pleasure to meet you…um...”

“Padme’, Padme’ Naberrie.” Anakin watched her go, suddenly saddened to watch his angel walk away.

Qui-gon called the ship and spoke to Ben on the comlink to find out if there was anything of value they could trade, but he was assured that a few gowns wouldn’t fetch much on such a barren planet. “Something will present itself, it always does.” Dooku spoke to the small group as they stood near a market place trying to flesh out ideas to purchase the hyper-drive when the wind started to pick up. “There is a storm coming, we need to find shelter.”

Just as they were turning away, the young boy from the shop approached them. “Sand storm is coming, do you have some place to go?”

“Our ship is on the outskirts of town.” Qui-gon spoke. “You can stay with mom and I until it blows over, she won’t mind!” The young boy tugged at Padme’s hand and smiled over his shoulder as the group trudged behind. The storm howled outside as everyone sat at the small table to a delicious meal that Anakin’s mother, Shmi, had cooked for them. “We thank you for your shelter; Ani is a very special boy to take us in.”

“Yes, he’s my pride and joy, a boy I never thought to have.”

“I didn’t know there was still slavery in the galaxy.” Padme’ looked at the pair with a sad look upon her face. “Republic laws don’t extend to the outer rim. We have transmitters inside that prevent us from even trying to escape. If we leave, they detonate.” Shmi spoke evenly, not giving away her sadness at the life she provided for her only child.

Anakin stood up next to Qui-Gon and touched his arm gently. “You’re a Jedi, aren’t you?”

“What makes you think that, young one?”

“I saw your laser sword in the shop.”

“You’re very perceptive, however what if I just killed a Jedi and took his sword?”

“No one can kill a Jedi. You are here to free the slaves, aren’t you?” Dooku spoke quietly in response, “If only that were so. We are on a very important mission and our ship got damaged. We must ask you not to reveal our identity, please.”

“We will keep your secret.” Shmi nodded her assent.
“We need to find a way to pay Watto for those parts. The one thing I do know about this planet, Gambling is what they love the most. Perhaps we can find a wager to place.” Dooku said.

“Podracing!” Anakin suddenly got very excited.

“Oh no, Ani. I don’t like it when you race; it kills me every time Watto makes you do it.” Shmi reached out to touch his arm. “It’s ok mom. I have a podracer built and if you could talk Watto sponsoring me, I’m sure I can win. I am the only human on Tatooine that can!” The young boy’s eyes were alight with desire. “You must have Jedi reflexes; however I cannot ask such a young boy to risk everything for us.”

“Do you have any other ideas?” He looked at everyone with pleading eyes. “Yes, I actually do. Would you allow us to use your podracer?” Dooku kneeled down to the young boy’s level. “If you would allow us the use of your racer, I think I have a plan that can get us the parts we need.” Shmi seemed to let out a breath that she had been holding forever. “Ok, sir, but…I’m your best shot of winning.”


 

Dooku spent most of the night fleshing out his plan with Mace. “I think this could work. I will send Qui-Gon back to the ship to take Obi-Wan’s place. I know that Obi-Wan’s a heck of a pilot, but do you think with everything that’s been going on that he can focus?” Mace hated to question the padawan or Dooku’s judgement, but he needed to make sure that the mission and most importantly, Obi-Wan was safe. “Our jobs often put us at risk, and Obi-Wan knows that. He will not let us down, I have every faith in him.”

“I had to ask, Jard. I didn’t mean to doubt you or him.”

“I know, no harm was done. What do you think of the boy, Anakin?” Dooku sat outside with Mace, the storm long gone. “He’s strong in the force, almost stronger than anyone I have felt before; it is probably why he was so good at Podracing. What is going on in that mind of yours, Master?”

“When I spoke to Watto after dinner and persuaded him to put up the money for the race against our ship, I also made a side wager.”

“Oh, this isn’t going to make me happy, is it?”

“If we win, the boy will be free. Free to come back to Coruscant with us. He needs to be trained, Mace. He can’t be left out here to fend for himself. He should have been at the temple long ago.”

“Oh Jard, you know the council isn’t going to train him. Look at everything I had to go through with Qui-Gon and he was never a slave. I had to take personal responsibility for him and even then, they almost didn’t agree.” Dooku nodded but his resolve on the matter wasn’t going to waiver. “Perhaps, but have you ever known me to take the easy way?” Unable to respond, Mace just stood up and shook his head. “I sure hope the force is with us tomorrow. Good night, master.”


 

As the twin suns rose, Qui-Gon had reached the ship to relieve Obi-Wan of his duties so that he could return to Mos Eisley for the podrace. “Please be careful Obi-Wan, I just got you back in my life.” They were just outside the ship, out of view from prying eyes as they embraced. “This is what I do, Qui. You have your plants, I have machines. The force will be with me today.”

“I guess I should take my own advice and not worry over the future.” He smiled and placed a shy kiss on his Ben’s lips one more time. “You better get going, they are waiting for you.” Qui-Gon watched the younger padawan fade from the desert as he drove away in the speeder that Shmi had lent them. He had a bad feeling about today, but he couldn’t pinpoint if it was the race or something else. There was a darkness, it was lurking close by and it sent a cold chill down his spine.

When Ben reached the arena, he found his master huddled close to a small blonde headed boy. They were concentrating on the pod racer and he was listening attentively to everything the young boy said. It set off memories of the two of them when he first became his padawan. Standing there, lost in memories, he was brought of his thoughts by his master’s warm regard. “Welcome back to Mos Eisley, my Padawan.”

“Thank you, my master. It’s just everything I hoped it would be.” He rolled his eyes, chuckling at the thoughts of their last mission. “I heard we owe you a thank you.” He turned to the young boy and kneeled to his level.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, I would like you to meet Anakin Skywalker.” Dooku introduced the two and let them make their acquaintances before pulling Obi-Wan to the side. “You know how dangerous Podracing can be, but I know you can do this, Obi-Wan. I have faith in you.” Obi-Wan’s eyes immediately fell to the sandy ground under his feet. “None of that, my own, you are worthy of my praise.” He lifted the chin and made the young man look into his eyes, seeing the doubt still underneath it all. “Let’s win this and go home.”

Ben settled into the seat of the podracer, looking at his “crew” of misfits. He had two aging masters of the Jedi Order, one nine year old slave, his young friends and one hand-maiden. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but he was glad that his master believed in him. He would not let them down. It was several hours later, that Obi-Wan crossed over the finish line after an angry male Dug had tried to sabotage his racer to finish first. With some quick maneuvering and Jedi skill, Obi-Wan brought everything back online and he managed to be the first human to win.

He was met at the finish line by his “pit crew” and a huge smile on his master’s face. Normally he would hold his emotions to himself and find some fault in his performance, but the warm arms wrapped around him now let him live in the moment, this one perfect moment where he felt the pride radiating off his master. “You did it, Obi-Wan. I am so proud of you.” Dooku crushed him harder in the embrace and sent all his emotions over their still weak bond, hoping it would get through. “Thank you, Master. It was just my duty.”

“You were wizard!” Anakin was by his side, speaking a mile a minute about the race. Obi-Wan could see why Qui-Gon liked the boy; he had a glow about him. “Thank you Anakin, and thank you for the use of your racer. We couldn’t have done this without you.” Kneeling before the boy, he ran his hands through Anakin’s hair.

Watto came through the crowd of people and reluctantly glared at Dooku. “You cheated! I don’t know how but cheated you did! I won’t pay.”

“We can bring this matter to the Hutts, but I promise you that there was no cheating and you have no proof of any.” Watto muttered underneath his breath, knowing that the Hutts would not side with him. “Very well. The boy is free, but the mother, the mother stays!”

Obi-Wan, Anakin and Shmi all looked up with surprise at Dooku. “I didn’t want to get your hopes up, so I kept it a secret. I made a side bet for Anakin’s freedom so he could come with us to train to be a Jedi.” He looked at Shmi sadly, “I tried to win your freedom as well, but he would only allow me to gamble for one of you. It is your choice now Ani.” Dooku kneeled before the boy and waited for his answer. Anakin looked to his mother and back at the Jedi, feeling torn between his present and his future. He didn’t want to leave his mother, but perhaps he could one day be a Jedi and free her. “I want to go with you and learn to be a Jedi.”

Obi-Wan sank back into the background, his own mind racing with fear as he watched his master kneel at the feet of another. The force swirled around him as a vision of the future took shape, all three of them in front of the council and Master Yoda speaking clearly, “Your padawan, Skywalker will be.” Obi-Wan stumbled slightly, swaying with the emotion that overwhelmed him once again, his adamantine shields crashing around him. “This is but one future, this isn’t going to happen” he spoke to himself.

You will be replaced, worthless…no good… The voice rang inside his head and he pushed it out, immediately remembering Qui-Gon’s words and his arms around him in the storage closet. It was time to speak with his master, it was the only way to give himself power over the darkness that invaded his thoughts. Dooku looked over to his young padawan with a questioning gaze. “Once we are on our way, I need to speak with you, Master.”

“When you are ready, my young one.”


 

As they all gathered up the needed supplies and spoke with Watto about where to deliver the hyper-drive they escorted Shmi and Anakin home to pack up anything the young boy wished to bring with him to the temple. It was a tearful goodbye between the mother and son, but a small whisper was heard, “I will see you again.” It was more than just a promise but something he just knew. “I love you, Ani. Don’t look back.” She placed a small kiss on his forehead and watched them all walk back into the desert sand, hoping that she was doing the right thing.

Obi-Wan motioned for the two masters to go ahead, they would be right behind them. He knew the boy needed a few minutes to sort through all the emotions. Qui-Gon had gotten the new hyper-drive installed and the ship was ready to take off, they were just waiting for everyone to return. Obi-Wan walked side by side with his young charge, watching him kick at the sand with each step. “Are you scared?” Obi-Wan broke the silence. “No…Yes. I’ve never been without my mother.”

“It will be difficult, but it is not impossible to succeed.” He didn’t want to sugar coat the life he was choosing, it wouldn’t be fair to the boy. “Thank you for walking with me, I know you gave me time to think.”

“Your welcome, but we need to hurry and get the Queen to Coruscant so we can save Naboo.”

Obi-Wan ran ahead a bit and turned around to see if Anakin was following when he saw a dark figure in the distance. “Anakin, Drop!”

Just as Anakin dropped to the ground a speeder bike flew over the young boy and a figure launched himself at the Padawan. Darth Maul ignited his blood red lightsaber and launched a killing blow at Obi-Wan that he barely managed to block with his own sapphire lightsaber. The two men fought viscously as the dust from the sand was kicked up by their movement. Anakin managed to get to his feet and looked at the two, bewildered. “Anakin, Run! Get to the ship and tell them to take off. Go!”

Out of breath, the little boy ran up the ramp of the ship and saw Padme’ and Captain Panaka in the corridor. “Obi-Wan is in trouble. He said to take off without him.” Captain Panaka looked at the small child and then back to Padme’ who just nodded and headed for the bridge.

“Anakin says that Obi-Wan is in trouble and said to take off without him.”

Qui-Gon looked out the bridge windows into the desert and pointed, “There. Fly low!” He directed the pilot as they took off.

Darth Maul and Obi-Wan continued to fight each other, flying over the other with skill and acrobatics that would impress any Jedi Master. Their red and blue lightsabers clashed with each attack, Obi-Wan feeling his body tiring at the constant darkness exuding from the figure before him. The black and red tattooed Zabarak, Darth Maul, glared at him with hatred, his blows coming harder and faster as the moments ticked on.

“You will die here.” The viscous words that came from the rotting teeth tore through the Jedi padawan as he started thinking that this was it. His only hope was that Anakin had made it to the ship and they got off the ground, back to Coruscant. Just as the thought came to him, he heard the ship’s engines in the air behind him. Taking a quick glance, he noticed the ramp was down and he leaped to it quickly. Darth Maul stood in the sand, his lightsaber still lit as he watched the ramp close and the ship take off. This would not please his master.

Obi-Wan lay on the deck of the ship breathing heavily, his body fatigued like never before. Qui-Gon ran into the room to wrap his arms around Obi-Wan, telling himself that his Ben was still alive; he was in one piece if a bit frazzled. “I’m ok, Qui. Just really, tired. I’m not sure what that was but the darkness…”

“We must hurry back to Coruscant, that my padawan, I’m afraid was pure darkness. I fear the return of the Sith.” Dooku’s eyes looked almost haunted as the words were spoken. “We must tell the council right away."

Chapter Text

Once again the stars streaked in the distance as they headed back to the temple. Obi-Wan had excused himself politely, desperately in need of time alone, but also a sonic shower. He opened the door to their quarters aboard the ship and let out a breath he had been holding since he left his master’s side. So many thoughts were running through his head as he thought back to the wicked creature that attacked him with so much hatred. There was something there, some familiar inkling that the force was showing him. He just couldn’t place why he felt so strongly that everything hitched on that remembrance. Lost in thought, he started to strip his outer tunic, sitting on the bed to remove his boots, he laughed slightly as he poured the sand to the metal flooring. “I have a feeling you won’t miss the sand.” Obi-Wan looked up and grinned at the voice in the doorway. “I’ve never been a fan of Tatooine; last time we were there I was finding sand in everything for weeks after our departure.”

Qui-Gon observed the exquisite view of his Ben, only in his pants and under tunic, hair mussed and still looking very tired from his fight with… No he wouldn’t think of that yet, he didn’t want to think of how he could have lost this light in his life before it ever really started. “Stay with me in this moment.” Ben approached him, his features almost that of a cat stalking its prey, running his hands over Qui-Gon’s chest and up towards his strong neck, pulling him down into a feverish kiss. Their lips met, parting to allow the other entrance as they embraced fiercely, both feeling the need to stay in this moment and not think of the past or the future, just to live in the other’s arms and feel the relief of unspoken feelings. The requirement to breath broke their kiss and Qui-Gon pulled him close to his chest, just living in the aura of the other. “Ben?” Muttering into his chest, he responded, “Mhmm?”

“We’ve been skirting a conversation for a few weeks now. I think we need to talk about what’s going on between us.” Ben nodded his head, still resting on the chest and listening to the heart that seemed to beat just for him. Reluctantly, Ben pulled away and drew them both to the bunk, “I don’t know where to start, Qui.”

“We start from the beginning. When we first met all those years ago, we had this…connection. I could feel it from the time we met, waiting to address the council for the first time.” Ben nodded and just let Qui-Gon take control of the conversation, listening intently to every word that tumbled out of the soft spoken giant of a man. “I honestly didn’t know what to make of it at that point in my life. I was so overwhelmed with leaving the only place I ever knew. Everything in my life was up in the air. Would the council let Mace train me, would I be sent back to fend for myself once again? There were just so many questions running around in my mind that I didn’t know if I could survive the doubts. Then there was this young redheaded boy next to me, which was feeling just as much anxiety as I was just as much doubt on his place in the galaxy. I looked into your eyes and just felt this, pull towards you. I felt the need to protect you from those doubts and share mine all at the same time.” Ben reached over and carefully slipped his hand into that of the man searching for the words that they both knew had been coming for years.

Qui-Gon squeezed his hand gratefully and continued on. “On Bandomeer when we needed each other, there was always a pull towards the other. I could feel when you needed me and I could reach out for you, but I didn’t understand it back then. I just knew that I liked that closeness. Then as quickly as it came, we were separated by time and space.”

“Those were dark years for me. I missed our closeness, but I was so consumed with being the perfect padawan for Master Dooku that there never seemed to be time for letters, or even a communique.”

“I know, because I felt the same. I don’t blame you and I think in the end, perhaps it was meant to be that way. We were too young then.” It all resonated in the force as the words came out. This was why they had never rushed to each other all those years before. The force knew they needed time to grow alone, to shape the people they were meant to be apart, so they could come together later with their own set of skills, their own mind apart from the other. Qui-Gon let go of the hand that was clasped around his, to gently cusp his cheek and pull Ben’s face closer to his. He wanted to look into his eyes as he uttered the next words, the words that could no longer be held in check. “We were meant to be together. The force has bound us to the other so many years ago, but it gave us time to come into our own before we took the next step. However, it is not this pull of the force that brought me to realize that you are a special man. You are a man that feels things so deeply, but hides them from others as if it were a weakness. A man whom I look at and see as the epitome of a Jedi, you are a man who no matter what you may think; is strong, independent and most of all caring.” Obi-Wan’s eyes couldn’t help but latch onto the gaze that was staring right through him into his soul. “What I am taking so long to tell you is, Obi-Wan Kenobi, I love you.”

The emotion of that statement settled around them, Qui-Gon waiting patiently for whatever happened next, letting Obi make the next step without pressure. “I…” Obi-Wan closed his eyes, letting the words soak into his soul, letting the force swirl around him in question. After a moment or two, he opened his shiny blue green eyes, no longer that stormy grey and spoke softly. “In the past, I would probably be speaking to the force and arguing with it. I would say, I’m not good enough for such an honor, I am not allowed to have these emotions, but over the last weeks, you have shown me another way. You made me a stronger person, a better…man. I will not deny what is in my heart any longer. I love you too.” He closed his eyes once more, only to reopen them shyly. “But where do we go from here?”

The chuckle that came from Qui-Gon was that of pure joy and relief. “Anywhere we want, my love. There are no restrictions on love expect those we place on them. We are Jedi and we have our duty, but that doesn’t mean we must live without feelings.”

“Say it again?” Qui-Gon sent a puzzled look at the younger man. “My love…Say it again.” Pulling him closer, Qui-Gon whispered next to his ear, “You need a shower, my love…” They both laughed and clutched the other in a deep embrace. “You are an ass, but you’re my ass. I should probably get cleaned up. Would you, wait for me?” Qui-Gon let his fingers slip gently into the under tunic, running his fingers over the heated skin of the man he loved, feeling the passion build quickly as he lowered his lips to the nape of Ben’s neck, nipping at it gently and then lavishing it afterward with his tongue. “There is nowhere else I want to be, I will be waiting.” Letting go was one of the hardest things they had to do, they both yearned to stay connected to the other, their bodies alive with this one perfect moment.

Qui-Gon looked up a little while later to see the sight of his Ben leaving the fresher with a towel clinging tightly around his hips, the very vision of a stately god from the lore they read in temple. “You shouldn’t see me as such; I am just a man, Qui.” His cheeks turned a bright red at the thoughts he could now feel just like they were his own.”

“You are much more than that, you are my other half and I am allowed my fantasies.”

“Oh? I might like to hear more of this…” Bringing himself quickly to Qui-Gon’s side, he pressed his body closer, letting him feel the hardness beneath his towel, the passion between the two building as they both moaned at the intimate contact. “Fantasies can wait until later, I need you.” A deep growl came from Qui-Gon before he pulled Ben down on top of him, tumbling into the bunk below them, their bodies pressed intimately together in delicious friction. Just as their lips met in a deepening kiss, the comm went off in the room. “No…” Obi-Wan breathed out as he stood up and flipped a switch, his voice trying to sound steady. “Obi-Wan.”

“Padawan, it is time we spoke. Please meet me in my quarters.”

“Yes, Master.” The passion was immediately gone from the young man’s eyes as he closed them in fear once more. This was the moment. This was when everything came crashing down. “I. I’m sorry, but I must go.”

Qui-Gon watched the passionate man turn into the closed down Jedi once more and ached for the loss. “There is nothing to be sorry for, my beloved. We have a life time. But that lifetime can’t start until you have healed. You need to tell your Master everything, Obi. I know it isn’t easy, but I’m never far away.”

“I know you are right, but I’m still scared. What if they expel me to the AgriCorps again?”

“Then we will decide our future when that moment comes. You are not alone, never again. Trust in the force, Ben.” Obi-Wan quickly dressed into a new set of tunics and took a deep breath as he stared at the door before him. “You can do this, I believe in you.” He felt strong hands on his shoulders and a small squeeze before turning around to capture one last kiss. “I love you, always.” Ben nodded one last time and headed to his Master’s quarters ready for what was to come.


 

“Come in, padawan.” Ben heard the words and steeled his body and shields for what was to come. “Have a seat my young one. It is beyond time that we spoke.” Obi-Wan just nodded and sat gingerly in a chair before his master. “Obi-Wan, when you lowered your shields to me the other day, it was the greatest joy I have ever felt before. I was honored to finally feel you deeply within our bond, however brief the contact.” His voice was low and gentle, not wanting to startle the young man that looked like he was in fight or flight mode on the edge of his chair. “Qui-Gon, He helped me center in the living force, it was amazing, I didn’t feel the constant pressure of the future, I was finally able to see the need to live in the moment.”

“Yes, your friend is very wise and unbelievably strong in the living force. I haven’t felt someone that strong in years, not since my own master, Master Yoda. I am glad for your friendship, Obi-Wan. He has really helped you in these troubling times, but you need to understand that you can rely on me as well. We need to speak of your suicide attempt, young one. I have never been so scared in my life then when I found you, to know that you had reached such a point in your life…” He trailed off and drew closer to Obi-Wan, taking his hand gently in his. “Obi-Wan, who told you that I didn’t want you all those years ago, that I had only done it for Mace?” Ben’s shoulders tensed immediately, wanting to run away and not have this conversation. “Bruck heard you. He came to tell me while Qui-Gon was in the med center. He sh-showed me the conversation, between you and Master Windu that night. I knew you didn’t want me; I knew it and had hoped that I could prove that I was worthy one day. I just, wanted to belong, to feel…Why didn’t you just let me go?”

“Because this foolish old man couldn’t let go of the boy that came to mean everything to him, you know how much I love Mace. I would do anything for him and I did. However, as Bruck didn’t stick around or left out, there was more to that conversation my young one. May I show you?” He nodded his head and closed his eyes and opened their bond just a bit more, not letting everything go just yet. As he closed his eyes, he felt the memory from what felt like years prior.

“I have a feeling you are not quite finished my master. What is the real reason?”

“There is little in this world that I can deny you. Force help me, but the reason I took him was because you asked me to.”

Inside the quarters, Dooku continued their conversation. “I am ashamed of that fact every day, Mace, but after I got to know the boy more, my thoughts changed. While our bond is not close, I love that boy as much as I do you. I once watched him with a group of refugee children caught up by a war. He was on the ground and had a small ball that he levitated just above the ground and played with them. He wasn’t a Jedi in that moment; he was just a young boy that wanted to see them smile once again. One of the young toddlers slipped into his lap and gave him a hug after they were done playing and fell asleep against him. I watched as Obi-Wan stroked his back and let the little one stay, knowing it was the first time he had felt safe since the war had started. That was the exact point in time that my heart knew this wasn’t duty, but the will of the force. I just can’t get him to open up to me; I don’t know what to do Mace.”

Ben gasped as the memory finished, tears running down his cheeks. “I didn’t know, I didn’t believe.” As the last word left his lips, the shields that he had held for so long came crashing down. “I love you, my padawan.” Obi-Wan crumpled into his master’s open arms, his emotions becoming too much for him to deal with.

He knew his master wouldn’t lie to him about what happened with Mace, but he still didn’t fully trust, there was so much distance between them both for so long. “There is…something I must tell you.”

“Whatever you have to tell me, it will not change how I feel, Obi. I know it’s hard to trust in that, but it is the truth.”

Rubbing the tears from his eyes, he pushed away from his master and quickly stood, starting to pace the floor as the words poured out. “I think I have touched darkness, master. When I was on Bandomeer I was hearing…voices. They were telling me things, trying to persuade me of certain things. I thought it was just Xanatos playing games with me. I thought that it was over.” He continued on, his movements becoming agitated the more he thought of past events. “Since the moment you took me on as a Padawan that voice has been telling me, not to trust you. That you didn’t care, that I would never belong, it said that I should just stop trying. I was able to put it off for years, I was going to make you proud of me, and I was going to make sure you didn’t regret taking me...”

Dooku went to interrupt that wrong thought, but Obi-Wan put up his hand in rebuttal. “Let me finish please, this is…hard enough. That night when Bruck talked to me, it was that voice that gave me the idea. If I could just sleep, I was so tired and it told me that I could sleep forever. The idea was so tempting, and I…” He stuttered, not sure he had the strength to continue, when he felt his master’s aura pulse around him in support. “I’ve heard this voice since then, always speaking to me, always telling me that I was not wanted, that everyone was lying, that I was worthless. I was with Qui-Gon on our way to Tatooine, we have gotten, close…” Jard almost could smile, knowing the boys had gotten more than just close in the passing weeks. “Well, when I was with him, upset about things. I heard the voice again, whispering, seducing me, but this time Qui-Gon heard it and drew it away with his light. That was when he had me center and reach for you. I-I’ve been tainted, master.”

“Oh young one, the secrets you’ve lived with, only hurt all the more for the fact that I’ve left you alone in this grief. Hearing the call of the darkness does not make one fallen. Temptation is something that Jedi deal with always; it is what we do in the face of that darkness that determines our allegiance to the force.”

“The Council will dismiss me master. They already doubt my future in the order. No one wanted me, and I’ve only proved that it wasn’t meant to be.”

“I know it is a lot to ask, my own, but can you trust me in this? We will deal with the council when it is needed, but I believe nothing to be changed. You are my padawan and I am your master, both centered in the light of the force.”

“I know that I would be smacked with Yoda’s stick for this, but I can only try my best, master. I don’t know if I can trust someone else when I have a hard time trusting myself.”

“You trust Qui-Gon, do you not?”

“As much as I can trust someone else, I think you should know that, we…We love each other and we think there is some kind of bond between us. I didn’t think pair bonds could be formed so young, but we believe this started when we were just boys, lost on Bandomeer.”

“If you cannot trust in me, or the council, trust in that young man. I can feel how much he cares for you, how much he wants only to protect and love you. I have never heard of a pair bond forming at such a young age, we might have to bring this to the attention of the council and healers as well.”

“Yes, master.” The words were strung out and almost slurred as the events of the last hours weighed heavily upon his body, beckoning for sleep. “You are tired. Go back to your quarters and rest. We will get through this together, trust in the force.” Dooku reached out slowly and drew the young man closer to him, embracing him in his arms, as well as the force. “You will be a Jedi, and you will be ok.” Obi-Wan nodded into his master’s chest and pulled away to walk back to his quarters, his very soul feeling numb and empty from all the emotions of the day. As his quarters opened, he saw Qui-Gon curled up on one of the bunks, already lost to sleep. Stripping outer tunics and his pants off, he curled up behind the larger man and sighed in relief at the contact of their skin. “I don’t know who to trust anymore, but I do trust you. I love you…” He closed his eyes and felt the body in front of him lean back into the warmth wrapping them both in the bliss of sleep.


 

In the lounge of the ship, a small boy shivered from the darkness of space, his dreams restless as he struggled to turn out of the nightmares. Unable to wake from the nightmare, his dreams of being a Jedi quickly turned into dark flashes of horror. Children laying on the floor of a majestic building, with dead eyes, the hallways littered with bodies as the walls burn. He saw a red blade, no longer wielded by a red and black man, but a towering figure dressed in all black with hissing breath.

The Jedi will not want you. They will see you as nothing but a slave. Remember this, remember…. Anakin awoke from the nightmare, his voice screaming out for comfort, his body cold from the darkness, but feverish from the nightmare. “Ani, is everything ok?” Padme slipped into the lounge, in her night clothes. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“Why are you sleeping out here? We set up a pallet for you to sleep on with the Masters.”

“I was cold, I came in here to get something warm to drink and fell asleep.”

“Let’s get you some more blankets, you need some rest. Things will get hectic once we all return to Coruscant; you will need to be rested.” She grabbed his small hand and led him away from the nightmares and back to the warmth. He didn’t know why, but he already knew she was part of his future.

Chapter Text

It had seemed like another lifetime since they had left the temple; Obi-Wan’s thoughts at the time were on the suicide attempt that left his future clouded. The council had all but put him on probation, so there was no guarantee that when they returned that he would remain a Jedi padawan, at the side of his master. Looking out the view port of the ship, he observed the planet below, filled with naught but bright lights, knowing this was it; everything would come down to the next few hours. His life would be determined by the council of twelve and he only hoped he was strong enough to face the consequences of his actions over the last few tens.

“Thinking about the council?” He almost leapt at the rumbling voice that came from behind him. “M’sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you m’love.” He felt the solid arms wrap around his frame, knowing full well that his new bondmate could read him easily.

“It’s hard not to think about our future. I can’t help but wonder that this will give them the excuse to be rid of me. I know I am probably making things worse, but I’ve always suspected that many of them just desired me gone from their ranks. I never quite understood it while growing up in the creche, but Master Yoda was truly the only one that seemed to give me a chance, even when I hid from his meddling gaze.”

“You would know that better then I, if you felt that way, then I believe your thoughts may have merit. I do know that when we met, it seemed they had played in your life way too many times. Sure you had a part in it, but you were just a child, they were adults. It was their responsibility to look out for your best interests.” Qui-Gon slowly let his hands run over his wrists, still hidden with bandages. “I don’t think they can say much about your suicide attempt without taking the guilt upon themselves. They were just as responsible for the razor piercing your skin as you were, Obi. Their actions allowed Bruck Chun to continually harass and bully you throughout the years. They didn’t once open their eyes to that menace, and because of that fact I…we almost lost you.”

Ben twisted around to gaze into the eyes of the man still enfolding him and let out a soft gasp at the tears flowing down Qui-Gon’s cheeks. “Hush, Qui. I am still here, you didn’t lose me. I am sorry that I hurt you so much, I never thought. I never realized. You were right; it was a rash decision with a permanent solution. I still have a long way to go, and I promise you, I will get help. I don’t want to hurt you again.” The two youthful men hugged, blocking out all thoughts of what was to come, only living in this moment where they were alone and loved, deeply.


 

Ani stared up at Dooku, his eyes sullen and filled with dark circles. He could tell the young boy did not sleep well in space, he found it all too bitter compared to the hot air of Tatooine. “Master Dooku, Sir, What will happen to me once we get to the temple?” His heart ached for the small child that left everything behind. He was entering into the temple completely blindfolded, with no knowledge of what was to come or if he even had a place there.

“You will stay close to us for now, Ani. Once we land we will have to report to the council and they will decide from there what is to become of you. I do promise this, you will no longer be a slave. That life is over.” As the words came from his mouth the boy turned a pale white and swayed slightly. Those words were reminiscent of his nightmare from the night before, words spoken with such vehemence he never wanted to hear them again.  “I never want to be a slave again, sir!” He clutched at the taller man, his emotions running amuck through the force.

“It’s ok, child. It’s ok.” Just as Dooku had finally quietened the sniffles from the young man, he glanced at his padawan and Qui-Gon. Just for a moment, he thought he saw a flash of jealousy and concern flow over their strengthening bond, but he quickly softened his gaze and smiled at Obi-Wan. “It will be ok, Ani. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon will make sure nothing bad happens. I can think of no one better suited for the job.” Qui-Gon nodded at Ani and lowered himself to the young man’s level. “I will let you in on a secret. I was terrified the first time I saw the council and I was two years older than you. However, I didn’t have two seasoned padawans at my side. Just picture the small green one in his under tunics, it will help.” The young blonde boy started laughing as he was scooped up into the arms of Qui-Gon who spun him around the room.

Ben regarded he pair, his thoughts still unsettled after witnessing a vision that showed his master forsaking him for the child now playing with his bondmate.

Are you ok, padawan? He jolted at the words that ran through his mind. I am fine master, just thoughts of the future. Just as Ben was prepared to say more, Master Windu came through the door, “We have arrived. The queen and her entourage will be led to the senate immediately. We however have been summoned to appear before the council without delay.” Everyone swiftly disembarked from the ship and said their farewells. Padme and Anakin were reluctant to let the other go, but promised to see each other again.  

Master Dooku looked around the landing pad, surprised that they hadn’t been met by any of the council members, it was a bit disconcerting. “It will be ok, Master.” Mace laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, feeling just as nervous at the coming confrontation himself. “From your lips to the Force’s ears,” he spoke softly.


 

Master Windu and Dooku had been in the council chamber alone for well over two hours, when the doors released and a withered and tired Mace spoke kindly. “Please join us, Padawans. Ani, I know it’s hard to wait when your future is in the air, but please have a seat, we will be back soon.” Qui-Gon tried to read his master’s emotions, but their bond was shielded more tightly then it had ever been before. This didn’t bode well for what was to happen inside the chamber hall.

He looked over at the man he loved more than breathing and tried to offer a comforting smile. In all things, we will be together. Obi-Wan just nodded a tad and followed Mace into the council chambers, it was done and nothing could change the fall out now.

As they entered the chambers, Obi-Wan noticed that his master was kneeling on the floor, his head bowed to the council. He looked as if he had went several rounds with a krayt dragon. Immediately ignoring the stares from the council Obi-Wan took his place at his master’s side, two steps behind, and bowed his head as he kneeled before them. Obi-wan tried to reach out to his master through their bond only to have it blocked by an outside force; his eyes shot up and held a gaze with Master Yoda. “Touch his mind you will not!”

“Master?”

“I’m sorry padawan. They…” Dooku held his head in his hands as he whimpered softly against the pain. Mace approached the padawan and laid a hand gently on his arm. “He will be ok, Obi. They did a mind scan; he will regain his strength in just a moment.”

“How could you let them? There is no such thing as a mind scan, just call it what it was, you raped his mind! Why would you harm him, why would you do that to a man you claimed as your own padawan once?” Obi-Wan was on his feet, his hand on his lightsaber standing directly in front of his master. He was fiercely staring down not only Master Yoda but every other member of the council. Yoda lowered his ears, the pain on his face aging him before everyone’s eyes. “Fear they do, that tainted him you have. Out voted I was.” Obi-Wan’s eyes darkened and his hand didn’t waiver from his weapon. The room seemed to grow colder as his body started to shake from adrenaline and fear. “Out voted? It’s your job to protect him! Damn a vote, damn the council and damn the Jedi!” Obi-Wan’s emotions were suddenly out of control and the force started to swirl around the room.

Just as the padawan was about to do something stupid and rash, he felt a tug from within that calmed him. Breath, Ben. This is not the way. Just as quickly as the emotions raged out of control the air around them calmed and the young man sunk suddenly to his knees in front of the twelve masters. There was no turning back now, they would expel him from the order, if not something more severe.

 “I’ve proven to the council of twelve that I am not tainted, so I tell you that neither is Obi-Wan Kenobi. He’s a brilliant light in the force and has taken everything that this council, Bruck Chun and the force have dealt him. I tire of repeating myself, but he is stronger for it.” Dooku paused for a moment, still catching his breath from the scan. “You sent us on a mission after he tried to take his life instead of giving him the help and healing that was needed.” Dooku struggled to his feet, standing by his kneeling apprentice, sending comfort and strength that he could little afford at the moment. Knowing this, Mace offered what strength he could, bolstered by his own padawan.

“Padawan Kenobi, do you deny that you have been hearing a voice. A voice that has been feeding you dark thoughts?” Ki-Ada-Mundi spoke, cutting off Yoda.

“No. I do not deny it.”

“This influence, how long has it been there?”

“I first heard it when I was nine, on Bandomeer. I was able to block it out most of the time, but it recently took root and I couldn’t banish its thoughts.”

“Why didn’t you tell your master?”

“I was afraid. I was trying to be the perfect padawan. I wanted to please him, I wanted to please you. I was scared that you would throw me out of the order.” Obi-Wan spoke evenly and plainly. There was no holding back now; he would live in this moment just as he had with Qui-Gon. “Padawan, tell us you must. Reason the voice was for your suicide attempt?” Yoda cut off the other master, tired of their games.

“No, Master Yoda. It gave me the idea, but it wasn’t the cause. I-I was tired. I felt so alone, like each breath I took only brought about more pain. Over our mission, I had time to reflect and speak to others and I realize that it was a solution that I had not thought out. It was a drastic end to a problem that I never truly tried to get help for. I was able to speak to Padawan Jinn and he convinced me that I wasn’t tainted, I was just afraid. I was able to reach out to my master on the way back to the temple and confide in him and open up our bond fully for the first time. I’m not saying that I know what is best in this situation, or what this “voice” is trying to do, but I do know that I am no more tainted with the darkness then my master is.”

“That is for the council to determine, young one.” The words came from Master Even Piell. “Are you willing to do as your master did and agree to a mind scan?”

“NO!” Master Windu and Master Dooku immediately shouted at the council. “You cannot ask that of him. He has already been violated by whoever is controlling this voice; you will not do that same. After what he’s been through, his mind…”

“I will submit.” Obi-Wan turned and offered his master a look of thanks for standing up for him. Qui-Gon couldn’t believe what was happening; his mind racing with the implications of what Obi-Wan was accepting. He was giving them permission to scan his deepest secrets, from a person that was so private that he had held onto his shields for many years, this would break him.

“Do this, the council should not!” Yoda stood from his seat and took his stand next to the two masters and padawans. "If open his bond fully to his master, he did, then tainted he is not. Things at work here, which have not revealed themselves.”

“Master Yoda, if you can’t separate your personal feelings from this matter, then perhaps you should recuse yourself from these precedings.” Master Piell spoke quietly, but with expressive force. “Recuse myself, I will not. Stand witness to this mistake I shall.”

Obi-Wan lowered his head and whimpered lowly as the masters started to probe at his shields. “Lower your shields, young one. If you don’t then this will be more painful,” The words were spoke softly by Yarael Poof as the masters all focused their powers on the trembling padawan, the gut wrenching scream that broke from the young man’s lips echoed throughout the chambers.

“STOP! STOP!” Qui-Gon ran to Obi-Wan’s side, his body tensing at the feedback from the bond. “Please stop! Hur..ts..HURTS!” Qui-Gon collapsed to the ground, pulling his Ben with him. Just as his shields were starting to tear down, the council immediately withdrew, listening to the shallow breathing of the two collapsed padawans.

“Explain.”

“W-we bonded. The feedback, the blocking of our bond, we’ve just acknowledged it. If you continue you will destroy us both.” Qui-Gon pulled the padawan into his lap and rocked him gently, wanting to just pick him up and run away from everything.

“Done you are, no darkness can there be.”

“With all due respect Master Yoda, you cannot be certain.”

“Certain I can be. No normal bond I believe this to be. Something different there is.” He raised his eyebrow to the taller Padawan. “That is true, Master. We’ve had this bond since we met, back when we were just boys.”

“Impossible. Pair bonds can’t happen that young.”

“Pair bond, it isn’t. In 800 years I have seen this happen three other times. Life bond I believe this to be. One cannot be turned without the other, believe we do that Qui-Gon has turned?”

“Of course not, padawan Jinn has always been a blessing to this council.” Ki-Adi-Mundi muttered, knowing his mistake immediately. “Turned Obi-Wan has not then.” Qui-Gon at this point tuned out the rest of the room, resting gently in their bond, trying to soothe away the pain that radiated from the man he would protect beyond all else. As everyone in the room regrouped the council held a conversation quietly away from the Master and Padawan pairs.

“I’m sorry, Padawan. I thought if they saw that I wasn’t tainted that they would leave you be.” Dooku was still shaking from the ordeal.

“You shouldn’t have let them, Master. You don’t have to protect me, I’m not fragile. I won’t break. I’m stronger then you realize.” Dooku smiled and ran his hands over the long reddish-brown braid. “That is something I am well aware of, padawan. We will leave this room, even stronger.”

“Please bring in the boy, Anakin Skywalker.” Young Ani came into the room, awed by view and all its windows. “Welcome to the Jedi Temple, Young one. Told you wish to be a Jedi?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Why?” Ani looked to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan who were pulling themselves off the floor, wondering what had happened in here. “At first, I wanted to be strong and powerful so I could free all the slaves on Tatooine.” Looking at Qui-Gon, the tall man offered him a smile and nodded to continue.

“No longer your wish?” Yoda smiled at the adolescent, awed at the powerful force presence.

“I spoke to Qui-Gon, I mean Padawan Jinn, and He…Well he showed me the force, how to talk to it and feel it. He made me see how much of a responsibility it was and that being strong and powerful isn’t the best reason. I just don’t want to be scared of that power and strength, if I can’t be a Jedi, then I will be ok. Master Dooku promised I wouldn’t be a slave and that’s good enough for me.”

“Wise padawan, Jinn is.” Yoda nodded. “Wait in the lobby we wish. Discuss things we must. Call you back soon, we will.” The doors to the council chambers closed behind them, and Qui-Gon quickly pulled Obi-Wan tightly into his arms, reassuring himself that he was ok. “It’s ok Qui. It’s ok…” Obi-Wan ran his hand in circles around the small of Qui-Gon’s back as they just stood in silence, their Master’s watching over them. “It is out of our hands now, but I am sorry for the pain the council caused you.” Mace rested a hand on both of their shoulders.

Almost four hours later, the doors to the council chamber re-opened once more and they all walked back into the fire once more. “A decision made it was. Unanimous this was not.” Dooku could see the sadness and fear in his old master’s eyes and had no idea what was about to come.

“Padawan Kenobi, step forward you will.” Obi-Wan squeezed Qui-Gon’s hand gently and kneeled before the council. “It is the council’s decision that ill formed was the bond between master and padawan. This allowed a minion of the dark to penetrate your consciousness. Therefore, severed your bond will be. Trained Anakin Skywalker must be. Padawan to Master Dooku, he will be made immediately.” Unable to hold his composure any longer, Obi-Wan sank his head to the floor in a repentant pose, his body shaking from the sobs. “Master Yoda, you can’t! Obi-Wan is my padawan. Not that I don’t believe in young Anakin...”

He was quickly cut off by Ki-Adi once more. “Master Yoda was the dissenting voice on the council, Jard. Don’t make this more painful on the boy then it needs to be.” Jard continued to yell at the council, Obi-Wan continued to cry and Anakin looked like he was ready to bolt out the door. Mace tried to intervene between the council and his former master. Qui-Gon could only stand and look around at the scene and wonder when everything went so wrong. “It will be ok, young one.” He reached out for Anakin and tried to assure him. Mace looked over at the two and suddenly felt his heart clench, realizing what was happening.

Dooku had gotten closer to the council and taken his saber from his belt, looking at it longingly. “I will train Obi-Wan Kenobi without your help or permission. I will NOT abandon my child!”

“Master?” He couldn’t believe he had just heard those words. The man that he always tried to please, the man that he had once believed never wanted him, was giving everything up for him. “It means nothing without you. This is the right thing to do.” Jard wiped a tear from Ben’s eyes and set the saber on the cold marble floor before the council.

“Listen to me you did not. Lost are we, to this bickering and division. If dealing with the Sith we are, then succeeding in our own downfall we are.”

“Masters?” Mace spoke up, hoping he wasn’t too late to change things. “There is something you are missing.” They just nodded to the man, and allowed him to continue, everyone hoping the emotions of the last few minutes could be reined in. “The boy has already bonded to another.” Everyone looked at Mace with a puzzled look and he just gestured to his padawan who was rocking the small boy, trying to protect him from the drama going on around them.

“Impossible. Your padawan isn’t a knight yet.”

“He will be, soon. I had put off telling him, but I was planning on recommending him for his trails within the year.” Qui-Gon gasped at the revelation and then looked down at the small boy he felt the need to suddenly protect, and realized they did indeed have a bond.

Yoda’s ears perked up a bit at that bit of news, but quickly tried to put everything to rest for now. “Told earlier we were that a new Chancellor appointed, Palpatine from Naboo now in control he is. Going back to Naboo, the Queen is, protected she must be. Mistakes made here tonight on all sides, they were. Suggest that Kenobi remain padawan to Master Dooku I do, happen this will, with or without our approval. As for Skywalker, to the creche he should go, until such a time as a there is a suitable knight available to take him. Allow him to catch up with his fellow creche mates this will.” Yoda smiled at the pair and knew that the force had indeed chosen this pair wisely.

“Queen Amidala has requested that you continue as her guardians until this mission has come to an end.” Ki-Adi-Mundi lowered himself to the floor and picked up the saber, offering it as a gesture to the man before him. “Perhaps, Master Yoda has a point. Maybe this is what the Sith wished for us and for our part we are deeply sorry.”

Dooku looked at the saber and suddenly wanted nothing more than to snatch it away smack them all with it. “I may eventually be able to forgive, but I promise I will never forget what happened here today. Today however is not that day, WE shall do our duty to the force and the Queen, but know that in my eyes this council has very little authority over me and my Padawan.” Dooku took the saber and immediately walked for the door, knowing his padawan was two steps behind, as was meant to be.


 

“Worry for the future, I do when destroy our knights and padawans we try to do.” Yoda glared at the rest of the council and left them to think on their own role in the proceedings this day. Just as he was about to walk out of the room with Mace, Qui-Gon and Anakin a small padawan ran in. “I’m sorry to interrupt masters, but we have word that Bruck Chun was reported missing. He signed out to go to the market outside the temple but never returned. He has been missing for over two tens, but as his master was out of temple on a solo mission we didn’t know he was missing. He had a friend that was covering for him. We have alerted the authorities but because he’s of legal limit, they do not seem concerned.”

“Concerned for him I am not, concerned for others, I certainly am.”

Chapter Text

The traffic was speeding by the temple, the darkness of night brightly lit with headlights and flashes from advertisements. There were no trees on Coruscant, at least not ones that weren’t planted in artificial parks, such as the ones found in the Jedi Temple gardens. However, the life force of the billions of beings gave comfort to the Padawan currently gazing out at the hustle and bustle of life on this plant.

“Credit for your thoughts?”

Qui-Gon turned from the scene before him to see the soft smile of the man that would be forever connected to him. He couldn’t help but notice the small dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep, but even then he was the most beautiful sight he had ever beheld. Not yet ready to speak and break the silence he tugged the lithe form to him and pressed their bodies together as tightly as possible. Qui-Gon tilted Obi-Wan’s chin upwards, gently letting his fingers run over the vein in his neck, feeling the life pulse beneath. Closing his eyes he just listened to the beat of the one he loved more than life.

“Qui?” Ben was starting to get a bit concerned at his lovers lack of speech. “I could listen to your heart beat forever. It’s the sweetest music that I’ve ever heard. With everything that has happened, I sometimes just want to sweep you up, lock you away and listen to that beat forever.”

“Locked away with you? That sounds like heaven. We would have to leave eventually however; we can’t live on love alone. I’m a growing boy and require sunlight and food.” Ben tried to lighten the mood and purred as the arms tightened around him.

“We could have a huge window, with a chair in front, where we can nap in the sun. And as far as food goes, there is always delivery!” Qui-Gon’s chest rumbled from the chuckle.

“Sun, naps, food and you? I’m not one of your pathetic felines that you rescue am I?”

“Sometimes I do wonder if you were a feline in a previous life, you are in fact purring at this moment.” Ben released one of his hands and swatted at Qui’s backside.

“Humph!” Qui-Gon lowered his head to burrow into Ben’s neck and shoulder, his lips gently opening to taste the skin. It was heavenly to savor the salty flavor of the man he yearned for every minute of the day. Sinking his teeth into the flesh, giving it a small nip, he then released the skin only to lave over it with his tongue.

“Mm, Qui. You know we are on a public balcony?”

“Mmmhmm.” Qui-Gon responded by letting his hands roam lower down Ben’s back, running down his spine to the pert roundness of his ass and squeezing gently. Qui-Gon let go of the flesh in his mouth to trail his tongue up towards his ear, “I want you, my love, in mind, body and soul.”

Ben whimpered at the words and felt his body respond quickly. Obi-Wan was about to wrap his legs around Qui-Gon right there on the balcony when they both heard someone clear their throat. “Do such things in plain sight, you should not.” The two padawans let go of each other reluctantly, the blush on their faces saying what they could not at the moment. “Transport, ready it is. Speak before it leaves, I wish to.”

Qui-Gon straightened his tunic and cleared his throat, hoping he could talk without trouble. “We were just…Um…What did you wish to speak to us about Master Yoda?” Ben chuckled at the words, knowing that they weren’t the smooth words of the diplomat Qui-Gon had become over the years.

“Wish to speak to your bond, I do. Strong it is. Like everything in the force, balance it must seek. With its strength comes some weakness.” This got the attention of the two, suddenly worried for the words to come. “In the beginning of the bonding you are. Hear each other’s thoughts you can. Feel what the other needs and is feeling you will. At this point, give and share energy as well. You will be able to serve the force in all things, together. However, once you have consummated your relationship forever will you be bound to the other.”

“I would want it no other way, Master Yoda, why is that a weakness?” Ben spoke softly, grasping Qui-Gon’s hand between his and squeezing tightly.

“Once consummated a life bond is just that. With the last breath of one, the other will follow.” Yoda bowed his head and let this statement sink in with the two before him. He knew that neither would wish to live without the other once they were bonded, but to hear the words would be a bit of a shock.

“Then we will make sure that we don’t consummate our relationship.” Qui-Gon gasped at the words coming from his soon to be mate, unable to process what was being said. “We are needed on the transport. Thank you for speaking with us, Master Yoda.” Obi-Wan bowed and left the two in silence, the coldness of the moment sending shivers down Qui-Gon’s spine.

“Time he needs young one, fret you should not. Deny the will of the force he cannot.”

“Deny it, he can. I’ve watched him do that time and time again over the years, but I will not force him into something he does not want with me.” The sadness in his eyes made Yoda’s heart ache. “Want he does, but many changes he’s had over the months. Time you should give.”

“Yes, master.” Qui-Gon bowed his head and headed for the transport, feeling empty inside as he reached out through their bond to find it there, but muted.


 

Obi-Wan boarded the transport, his mind closed to all around him as he thought of the words imparted by Master Yoda. He knew that he was hurting Qui-Gon by muting their bond, but he needed the time to think. Could he tie himself to Qui-Gon so completely that his death would mean the others? “What if I start feeling depressed again. What if…” He reached down and took off the bandages, seeing the now red but healed scars of the past. “If I had been bonded completely to him and had succeeded then he would be dead.” He whispered to the air, tears falling down his cheeks as the door to his quarters opened.

“Padawan?” Dooku entered the room, concern written upon his face as he had felt the sadness and despair through their bond. “Master…” Obi-Wan flew into his master’s arms and just started sobbing. “All is well young one. I know this day has not been easy on you.” Dooku wrapped his arms around the smaller body and rocked him gently, their bond fully open for the first time in years. “I have never been as scared as I was today when the council tried to break us apart. I want to say something to you, Obi and I need you to truly listen. Can you do that for me?”

He pulled the boy away from his chest and lifted his chin up to stare into his eyes. “Yes, Master.”

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are the light of my life. I had never thought to have another after Mace, but you came into my life and changed everything. I love Mace for the man he’s become and I am so very proud of him, we will always have a strong bond in the force.” Obi-Wan flinched slightly, the past still hard to contend with. “You are more. I can’t help but feel you are the son I never had. We are taught to not have attachments, but I guess I was meant to break the code, for when I look into your eyes I want nothing more than to protect you like a father would.”

Obi-Wan wrapped his hands around Jard tightly, unable to stop the tears from flowing. “I love you, father.” Obi-Wan whispered softly to the man before him.

Dooku smiled at the words, his own eyes starting to mist at the moment. “I can feel that something has happened to make you upset, do you wish to speak of it?”

“Not right now, master. Master Yoda gave Qui-Gon and I some news about our bond, and I just need time to process it.”

“Very well young one, promise me that you will seek me out if you need to talk or you are feeling overwhelmed by the moment?”

“I promise, but for now, I think I need sleep. I am so very tired.” Dooku nodded and stood up, heading for the door and glancing back to man undressing for bed. “Good night, my son. Tomorrow is a new day.”

“Good night, father.”


 

Qui-Gon was in the observation room, his body kneeling in meditation. He couldn’t believe that Ben had rejected him, rejected their bond. His emotions were swirling and he longed for peace within the force. He yearned for the arms and mind of his beloved that were currently so cut off from him. He sighed heavily, unable to sink into the force for comfort. “Meditation is hard when so troubled your heart is, isn’t that so young one?” Mace pulled away from the shadows to sink down next to his padawan.

“He. Oh master, I don’t know what to do. I love him and he’s withdrawn from me. He’s muted our bond and I can barely tell that he’s there. It hurts so much.”

“He’s been through quite a trial, my own. You both have. Do you wish to talk about it?”

Qui-Gon leaned into his master’s presence, feeling the strong arms wrap around him in comfort. “Master Yoda told us that once we consummate our bond that our life forces will be bound. If one of us dies, then the other will follow. Obi-Wan closed down and fled at the news, not even speaking with me. He’s refusing the bond now.” The words cracked only slightly at the end.

“I can imagine that to be a heavy thing to grasp, that your death might mean the end of the person you love most in this galaxy.” Qui-Gon nodded, still not comfortable with the thought himself. “I do not wish my death to mean his, but…”

“But you can’t think of living life without him either?” Qui-Gon nodded his head, the sadness rolling off him. “I know it is hard but you must give him time, Qui. He’s been through so much in such a short time. I recognize that you are a loving man and you wish to reach out and comfort him, but he has to come to this decision himself.”

Qui-Gon stood then, staring down at this master. “You are right, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I am going to rest now. We have a mission to complete and a planet to liberate.” Mace smiled up, the stoic Jedi in place before him, not the lost little boy he saw when he first entered the room. “Good night, my own.”

“Good night master.” Qui-Gon fled from the room, and headed back to his own quarters, not the ones they had shared on the way back from Naboo. He longed to just hold Obi-Wan in his arms, but he would not reach out until asked. “I love you, Ben. I will wait forever if I must.” Crawling into the cold bedsheets, he closed his eyes, sleep was long in coming, but he finally fell into a fitful rest.


 

In another part of the transport, a small boy curled up into a ball, feeling cold from the space once more. He was told that the group would be returning to Naboo, but he would be sent to the creche with the other initiates. He didn’t wish to go; he didn’t want to leave them. Something told him he was needed and once he had said his goodbyes to Qui-Gon he snuck aboard and hid in the cargo bay, behind some boxes. He had heard them all come aboard, glad to see that the Padme looked happier now that they were returning to her home. He wanted to protect her, even at nine years old he knew that this young woman was his future and he would not stay behind and play with the other kids when he was needed.

Anakin’s teeth were chattering slightly, wishing he had thought to grab a blanket before he boarded. He wrapped his small hands around his body and closed his eyes, wishing sleep to take him. As the boy finally drifted to sleep, the nightmares once again came, the bodies of younglings littering the halls of the temple he was leaving. He heard the harsh breathing within the shadows of the temple and a harsh laugh that brought chills. “They do not want you. They were leaving you behind. They fear the strength that you have. Join me, and together we can bring an end to slavery in the galaxy. Together we can make the galaxy a far better place. I promise your mother will be free, did the Jedi care about her?” Anakin whimpered in his sleep, wishing away the dark voice. “I am part of you Ani, you cannot wish away the other half of your soul. We will soon meet, we will be stronger together!” Just as the last word was uttered, the boy woke, drenched in sweat, yet shivering from the cold. He suddenly wished for nothing more than the tall padawan that had made him feel so safe and wanted. He reached out for the bond that the others said was there and whispered, “Master?”

In another part of the ship, Qui-Gon woke suddenly, confused at the words he thought he heard. “Ani?”

Chapter Text

The shadows of the room seemed to come to life as Qui-Gon swung his long legs over the bunk. It didn’t seem like that long ago since he had fallen reluctantly asleep, but he had heard a faint voice that cried for comfort and need. At first he had thought that Obi-Wan had needed him, but he reached out and still felt their bond closed down as much as possible. Perhaps a cup of tea would help calm his nerves and allow sleep to once again take over. He drew on his leggings and wrapped an outer tunic around his body, still feeling the chill of space.

As he entered the mess area, he recognized that he wasn’t the only one having a hard time sleeping. He saw the small handmaiden curled up on a chair, knees pressed to her chest and hands gripping a small mug. “Forgive me m’lady, but it seems neither of us is having an easy time sleeping. Might I join you?”

Padme startled for a moment and quickly brought her legs back to the floor, to appear more “lady like”. “Of course, I would welcome the company. There is more water in the kettle if you would like tea.”

“Thank you. I had hoped that a cup of tea might help me drift back to sleep.” Qui-Gon grabbed another small cup and poured the still steaming water into it, steeping the tea bag gently as he sat opposite the young lady. “I do not mean to pry, but are you ok, Padme?”

Not answering immediately she thought of the proper response and then just through caution to the wind. “The proper response would be yes, I’m fine, but honestly I’ve never felt this bad before. I’m worried for the Queen’s decision. She’s got so many things to factor before just storming onto Naboo and trying to save her people. There are many lives to think of and not just that of her people but the other race that inhabits Naboo, the Gungans.”

Qui-Gon nodded, listening for the moment, before a sly smile graced his lips. “The Queen is wise, even if young. She will do what is right for all life on the planet, I have no doubt.”

“She wants to, but how does she know that it is the right decision? She’s got her advisors, but they all have a different opinion. They squawk about, but none agreeing on a course of action that seems to fit the situation at hand. She’s tired, scared and to be honest she feels over her head.”

Qui-Gon stood from his chair and moved closer to the young woman, kneeling before her to take her hand gently into his. “Then the Queen needs to breath, drink her tea and listen to her own heart. The answer will come to her when it is time.”

Padme startled at the statement for a moment, her entire body tensing, “How-But-I…” She started to stutter like the young girl that she truly was and the red tint to her cheeks amused the padawan.

“It is ok; we’ve known for a while my Queen. In the best interest of your security and your want to keep the secret from us, we chose not to admit our knowledge. However, as you seem to need a friend more than a Jedi at this moment, I felt it was time to come clean, so to speak.”

“How could I think to fool you all? To think that your Master’s know and were humoring me, makes me feel even more foolish.”

“No more of that, we all understood the need for your protection, plus you seem to be more at ease when you are not covered from head to toe in pretentious make-up and gowns.”

Padme let out a laugh that startled the both of them. “You have no idea just how much I hate those gowns. The headdress alone weighs an extra fifteen pounds, for heaven sake!”

They continued their conversation, both of them feeling better for the other’s company in this time of darkness, until the young Queen finally started to stifle her yawns. “I do believe that you might be ready for sleep now. Can I escort you back to your quarters?”

“You may, as long as you promise to head back to your own and try to sleep.”

“Deal m’lady.” He held out his hand and pulled her gently out of the chair and started down the corridor towards her quarters. Just as they started to approach the living quarters, they passed the cargo hold and heard a small moan, followed by shouted words. “What?” Qui-Gon immediately pushed the young Queen behind him and grabbed his light saber, ready for anything. “Stay here.”

“Not on your life! This is MY ship.” He sighed, knowing that arguing would be pointless.

“Fine, but stay behind me.” He offered nothing more and started into the cargo hold toward the noises. The hold wasn’t filled with much, just a few boxes piled into the corner, which he suspected were food supplies. As they got closer Qui-Gon put away his lightsaber and sighed heavily. “What are you…?” Her words were cut off as the padawan kneeled next to the boxes and picked up a young curled up form. “Anakin?” She squeaked out just as the boy startled awake, still shivering from the cold.

Qui-Gon didn’t speak as of yet, he didn’t trust himself to not blow up at the youngling. Anakin pushed down out of the arms of the tall man he craved to see with all his being, feeling his face flush at being caught so early in his plan. Qui-Gon still said nothing for a moment and just looked on as Padme doted after the young man, pushing his hair from his eyes and rubbing at his shoulders trying to warm him. Unable to hold his anger any longer, he finally spoke. “What were you thinking, Anakin Skywalker? Do you have any idea the kind of trouble you are going to be in when the masters find out that you are not in the creche? I realize that you are young and you didn’t want to be left behind, but this was not the way to start your life off as a Jedi.”

The young boy wilted with each word that was said, his cheeks red from embarrassment as he was chastised in front of the girl. “I’m sorry, sir. I was going to the creche, I was going to do exactly as you and the council said, but…”

“No buts, Ani. What you did was wrong and it could compromise the mission!”

“But the force said...” Qui-Gon quickly sighed and released his anger into the force realizing it was more out of fear for the young boy.

“Oh Ani, come here.”

Qui-Gon kneeled down and opened his arms as the golden hair boy ran into them crying. “The force told me I had to come. I wasn’t trying to disobey, but it insisted that I had to come, please don’t hate me! Please don’t make me go back…” Qui-Gon looked up at the Queen who had tears in her own eyes as the boy shook with grief, fear and worry.

“It’s ok Ani; nothing you can do will ever make me hate you. We all make decisions that might disappoint, but that does not mean that you will be hated or sent back to Tatooine. Please look at me, young one.” He lifted the chin of the boy so he could gaze into his eyes and wipe away the tears. “You do realize that the council put you into the creche so that you can learn from the others, but that will only be for a short time. You will have a master, one that loves you already.”

The boy blushed when he realized that Qui-gon was referring to him. “Master?”

“Yes, my padawan, in everything but name?” The boy sniffled and wiped more tears from his eyes as he hugged the towering padawan.

“I’m sorry. I just wanted to help.”

“I understand, but we must wake the Masters and let them know. They will not be happy, just fair warning.” When they arrived at Master Windu’s quarters the door slid open to two very stern looking masters, with their arms crossed. They already knew what had happened. “I guess my shields didn’t hold particularly well.” Qui-Gon smirked and ushered his ward into the room.

“That you did not, padawan. Anakin Skywalker, I would yell and lecture at such a move, but I do believe my padawan has already read you the riot act. Was it sufficient, or would you like to face the wrath of both myself and Master Dooku as well?”

Anakin gulped and put aside his fear, kneeling before the two, “I know what I did was wrong and I’m sorry for how I went about being here, but I do not apologize for following the force.”

The boy bowed his head, waiting for whatever was to come. He certainly wasn’t expecting Master Dooku to burst out in laughter. “Padawan Jinn, you will have your hands full with this one.”

Anakin looked up as Mace broke into a grin. “I will have fun telling you about the time that Qui-Gon almost got married to the Princess of Malastare all because the force told him to offer her a pear.” Anakin turned to look at a bright red Qui-Gon before the door once again opened and Obi-Wan walked through. “It would seem that no one is sleeping as needed.” Dooku looked on with concern as the padawan was fully dressed, looking as if he never ventured to sleep.

“Forgive me, I did not mean to intrude…Anakin?”

“I will fill you in later, padawan. We all should try to rest, Naboo is not far away and we need to be our best for the Queen.” Dooku smiled and winked at the young handmaiden, realizing she really had fooled no one. “I will take Anakin with me; the girls will make sure he is well taken care of and warm.”

“Thank you, your highness.” Anakin gave Padme a strange look as she threw her arms around his shoulder and led him out of the master’s quarters.

The room held an awkwardness that made everyone uncomfortable, but finally Dooku spoke. “We should both sleep, my Padawan. Shall we head back to our quarters?”

“I…” Obi-Wan couldn’t stand to look anyone in the eyes at the moment and just mumbled, “I was actually looking for Qui-Gon. Could we have a moment?”

Qui-Gon looked at Mace and saw the empathy in his eyes. “Sure. Good night, masters.” He bowed to them both and left the room, with Obi-Wan just behind him. “Your quarters or mine?”

“How about the observation deck?” Qui-Gon sighed knowing he wasn’t going to like this conversation and knowing that Ben wanted it on common ground made him more wary. They both entered the dark room; to see the stars streaking by; the quiet between the two, while normally a comfort was anything but, at this moment in time. Qui-Gon remained silent, knowing that this was Obi-Wan’s stage and he would wait patiently until the younger man was ready. The physical distance was unmistakable as Ben leaned against the far wall, folding his arms for some sort of comfort. Oh how Qui-Gon wanted to be that comfort, but he resisted the urge to reach out.

“Qui, I’ve been meditating for the last few hours, trying to come to terms with what Master Yoda told us about our life bond. I’ve been looking for a way out of it, a way to make sure that we do not join our souls so completely.” His voice sounded so hollow and lifeless, that it scared Qui-Gon.

“A way out?” Qui-Gon just mimicked the vision before him, dumbfounded at the words.

“This cannot be, Qui, you must see this?”

“Do I have a choice in this, or are you going to make all OUR decisions for yourself?”

“In this one, you do not. I will not bind you to such a damaged soul as mine! If we had been bonded before.” He stopped for a moment, trying to find the right words. “If I had succeeded in killing myself, you would have died with me, all because of my selfishness!” Obi-Wan started to pace the floor, the agitation starting to bite into the force around them.

“Yes, you could have, but you didn’t and we are both still here.” Qui-Gon started to edge a bit closer, approaching the padawan as if he were a wounded animal.

Ben sighed and nodded, “Yes we are both still here and if I have another lapse, YOU will still be here. I will not let my episodes lead to your death.”

“Oh Ben, with help we can get through this together, don’t shut me out, please.” The tall man lowered himself to his knees, almost begging for him to reconsider.

“I’m sorry Qui. Once this mission is over, I will return with my master and once I’m knighted I will ask for assignment in the rim, permanently. This is for the best, please respect my decision.”

Qui-Gon wanted to cry, he wanted to beg, and he wanted anything but what he was hearing. “I love you, Obi-Wan Kenobi, from this life to the next.” Obi-Wan just nodded slightly and walked out of the door, waiting to collapse into tears when he was back in his quarters. The door to the observation deck closed, and so did the bond, so tightly that Qui-Gon groaned out in pain. To be so cut off from the one he loved most in the world, he felt like his body would shatter into a million pieces, if not just his heart. “Oh Ben, we are stronger together and with the man in black and red waiting for us, we need to be strong.” Just as the words rushed out his mouth, he felt the warm arms of his master comfort him. Come to bed, little one. Let me guard your dreams tonight.


 

Two days later the transport came out of hyperspace just inside Naboo space. Qui-Gon had spent most of his time with the Queen and Anakin, watching them bond and play games. It was so nice to see the young lady get a chance to be a child and not a ruler, even if for a short time. He had not seen Obi-Wan since the observation deck and could only barely tell that he was still on the transport through their bond. He had been reassured by Dooku that the young man was well and being taken care of by the master. Qui-Gon knew that they could get through this, once the mission was over, they just needed time.

Just as they were set to make their decent to the planet below, Qui-Gon froze suddenly in mid-step. His vision had clouded over with red and black, his body suddenly barren of all sense and feeling. His very soul felt so disconnected to the world around him, but it was wrapped tightly in the force like no other time before. It felt peaceful, but wrong, something was missing.

Just as he tried to puzzle out what the force was telling him, he was pulled from the vision. “Padawan, are you ok?” Mace looked quite concerned.

“Sorry master, it was just a moment. I think the force was trying to tell me something.”

“Hmm, you are not prone to moments of prescience, Qui-Gon. Was it tied to this mission?”

“I do not know, when we have a moment’s peace I will try to meditate on it, perhaps it’s just because I’m so unsettled.” He smiled weakly, trying to ease his master’s mind. He had spent the last two days looking after him as if he were eleven years old again. He appreciated it at times, but he truly just wanted to be left alone. The only presence that would soothe him wanted nothing more to do with him.

As if on cue, both Dooku and Obi-Wan walked into the room, ready to depart. Qui-Gon noticed the darker circles under his eyes, he wasn’t sleeping even now. This rift was taking its toll on them both, but physically Obi-Wan looked like he was battling the dark every moment of the day. Obi-Wan lifted his head and just gave Qui-Gon a blank stare, moving his eyes back down to the floor as he heard his master sigh.

“The Queen wishes to make a stop before we head to the capital. She wants a chance to address the Gungans, hoping to unite the two people against the Trade Federation.”

“We cannot fight her war, but the Gungans can. She is a wise young woman.” Mace stated confidently.

“She will make a fine ruler for the Naboo; she already has a strong connection to Anakin.” Qui-Gon spoke softly.

Just as the padawan finished, the Queen and her entourage walked through the door way, nodding to the congregating Jedi. “If we can put aside our differences with the Gungans, we will have a great chance of driving the Federation from our lands.”

“May the Force be with us.” Master Dooku uttered, letting his hand rest upon the shoulder of his padawan for support.

After several hours of travel, searching for the hidden Gungan forces, the Queen had found and made her case before the Great Chieftain. As she started to speak her words however, Padme came forward and kneeled at his feet, spilling the story of why she had a double, and that she was the true Queen of Naboo. She mended the rift and quickly had an ally and an army to help defend the planet against the invaders. They also had a base of operations for the night, to rest up and plan for the upcoming confrontation.

As the planning continued, the stars appeared in the night sky. It truly was a beautiful planet, and on any other occasion it would be a privilege to look up into those stars, tonight however was a time for reflection before the true battle began. Qui-Gon retreated into the forest, looking up at those stars for guidance or some reassurance that things would work out for the best. His shoulders were set, the tension radiating off his body.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my behavior the last few days. It wasn’t fair to decide our future and then cut you off so completely. I have not changed my mind, but with this upcoming battle, we shouldn’t be shielded so tightly against the other.” Qui-Gon turned from the stars and just shook his head toward the shadow of the man he thought would share the rest of his life with him.

 “We have a Queen to protect, Ben, a planet to save and a possible Sith Lord to battle, of course we shouldn’t be disconnected from the other, but it was your choice. I will not be like everyone else in your life and dictate my will over yours. You made your choice, Obi-Wan; I will find a way to live with it.” Qui-Gon stiffened and walked back to the group, leaving a stunned young man with nothing but his own thoughts.

Good, Good, let the hate flow through you. You make yourself more my servant the more you turn away from your friends, from your destiny. My servant will be visiting you soon, you will kill him. Once you have done that, you WILL join me.

“I will not join you! We will defeat your lackey and then we will come for you.”

He then heard a dark cackling laugh inside his head. Your faith in your friends will be your down fall.

“I am stronger for my attachments, I will not believe otherwise, no matter the Jedi Code states.”

“Padawan, are you ok?” Just as the last word had left his lips, Dooku had walked up, his face creased with concern. “You were hearing that voice again, weren’t you?” Obi-Wan thought of hiding, but knew he could never lie to the man who had called him son and nursed him through the last few hard days. “Yes, Master. He is trying to convince me to join him. I will not turn, master. I will earn my title and make you proud.”

“You make me proud every day, Padawan, just by being you. Do not let the darkness win, don’t let it alienate you from those that care and love you, especially Qui-Gon. I know you two are having problems, but you can’t shut him out Obi.” Ben just nodded to his master, not ready to speak about everything. “Get some rest before tomorrow, we will be ready to retake the palace come morning.”

Obi-Wan and Dooku made their way to camp, seeing Mace and Qui-Gon curling up onto pallets on the ground, ready for sleep. He smiled as he watched Anakin crawl into the pallet with the young padawan; those two would soon have a very strong bond. “I will take first watch, good night my padawans, and grand-padawans.” Dooku waved them all to sleep and took up his post. Everything would come to a head tomorrow and he feared for the sanity of not only his current Padawan, but the health of everyone on this mission he cared so much for. Looking up into the moon he noticed the red tint, blood on the moon was never a good sign in his heritage, he could only hope tomorrow would finally bring a peaceful end to this mission.

Chapter Text

The sun rose as it always had above the Naboo horizon. This was no different than the millions of years prior. However, for the species that now inhabited that ground, it was anything but a normal start to their day. They faced a foe that sought to wipe them from the very planet they called home, a foe that wanted nothing more than a total and complete surrender of the freedom all species held so dear. The camp that held the Queen and the Jedi bustled with energy as they all prepared for what was to come. Padme no longer hid behind the disguise of her handmaidens and was able to shed her gowns and just be herself, it was something to behold as she ordered about beings more than twice her age. She would be a strong force to reckon with in the future if they survived this day.

Qui-Gon continued to watch everyone shift about, his very soul locked into the life force around them. He reached out to the trees, the animals and the beings that he knew would give their lives this day, he only wished that his new comrades and friends made it through the battle ahead. Out of the corner of his eye he captured a glimpse of ginger hair, Obi-Wan. His mind still called out to the other half of his heart, only to find the way obstructed, it made the young man unsettled but there was nothing he could do to fix it. He promised to accept the younger man’s decision, but his soul ached for completion. The bond sought a connection that he was scared he would never have again after this day settled.

Just as he was about to draw near and speak to Obi-Wan a hand was placed gently upon his shoulder, holding him back. “I know that you are hurting, young one. I wish I could give you the time that is needed to sort that out, but today your mind must be on our task at hand. This is going to be a dangerous mission with not only the war that must be fought, but the emergence of what we all believe to be the rise of the Sith. I do not have a good feeling about this, my padawan, and you must seek your center, even in the throes of such hurt and longing. We are Jedi; we must protect those that cannot protect themselves.” Mace saw his padawan’s face harden with the words that were spoken. He hated to be the one to put that look on his face but he had horrible dreams of Qui-Gon’s death the night before. He had lost his father; he could not bear to lose the son as well.

“I’m sorry, my master. There is a time and place for my brooding and now is not that time. With your permission, I would like to go meditate before all hell breaks loose.” Mace nodded with approval. “Before…Before we do not have the chance, I wish to tell you something.” Qui-Gon turned before his master and saw the worry, doubt and love wash over the normally calm features. It set his stomach to unease, as if his master expected none of them to live through this day. “Ten years ago I found a young man who was lost, angry and afraid on a war torn planet. He had done his best to survive in circumstances that would have wilted the strongest masters. That was the day my life truly started, Qui-Gon. It was the day that I once again had something to live for and if we…If we are to meet our end this day, I wanted you to know how much that moment shined in my life. I will love you always, in this life and the next. Please watch your back as I cannot watch it this time. Dooku and I will be going with the Gungan forces to help protect the masses. This is your trial my young one. It falls on you and Obi-Wan to protect the Queen as you try to slip into the palace and rescue the political hostages that the trade federation is using as black mail.”

Qui-Gon listened to what may be the last words spoken outside of the force from his Master. It was a surreal moment, but one he would cling to desperately in the hours to come. Pushing his body closer to Mace, he wrapped his arms around the strong form and embraced as if it were the last time. “If not in this life, than we will meet in the next, my master.” Qui-Gon reluctantly let go and gave a weak smile to Mace. He was about to turn around and leave when the force prodded at him to speak. “Master, if something should happen. Would you please help Master Dooku take care of Obi-Wan, I fear for him if…”

Mace clenched his jaw and wanted to scream at the force and his padawan to stay with him, and not to leave. It was easy to say the words, but it was harder to match his actions and let go of his padawan. He had to let him let go and allow him to become the Jedi he was destined to be. “Say no more, Qui. You both will have a place in our hearts no matter what happens and we will always take care of one another, we are a family.” 

Qui-Gon swallowed his mouth suddenly dry as he thought of leaving the one person in the world that needed him the most. “One last thing, I don’t think I can tell him this now, but tell him I love him.” Mace just nodded his head, the fear taking over once more. They both felt the force at work and it was leading his apprentice in a direction that would either make or break him. Qui-Gon reached up and gently stroked Mace’s cheek, “Don’t fear for me, Master. Don’t shut down again either, you will have a young boy that will need you more than ever. Train the boy if I cannot. He deserves the very best and I can think of no better master.”

“I will promise no such thing because you will be coming back to me.” Qui-Gon gave him a weak smile that showed no conviction in that statement. “Good bye, Master, Father, Mace. You will always be all three to me.”

As he walked from the dark-skinned master he ran straight into Obi-Wan and Anakin. “Living in the moment, means watching out where you are going.” Obi-Wan’s sass made it seem as if nothing had happened between the two. “Perhaps I’m seeking out the future for once. Where are you two off to in a hurry?” It was a cordial conversation as if everything in the galaxy was pleasant, but it was better than the silence that permeated their lives the last few days.

“Obi said I could say good bye to Master Mace and Dooku.” Anakin looked at the two padawans and realized that something was going on that he didn’t know about. He just wanted his new friends to be happy and safe and at this moment they were neither.

“The Queen thought it better that Anakin stay with us and her group. It would be safer than on the battlefield.” Obi-Wan placed his hands gently on the young boy’s shoulders. This was no place for a nine year old, but they had no choice, many nine year olds on this planet were in the same situation and didn’t have a Jedi for a body guard, they had to do the best they could for Anakin.

“I fear there is no safe place at the moment, you be sure to listen to me Ani, and do not disobey my orders. Do you understand?” The brow on Qui-Gon’s forehead lifted, as he gave Anakin his best Mace Windu scowl, it had always made him listen. “The same goes for Padawan Kenobi, you will listen to us both or you will find your life very unpleasant after this mission is over. I have heard that cleaning the rocks in the garden by hand can take days if not weeks.”

“Yes Qui-Gon, sir.” Qui-Gon reached out and rustled the flaxen hair and tried not to look over at Obi-Wan, his heart wouldn’t be able to handle it. “I need to meditate before we leave for the capital. You mind what Obi-Wan tells you.” Qui-Gon turned to leave and didn’t see the utter look of sadness in the eyes of the man he loved. “Obi-Wan, sir, Are you and Mast…I mean Qui-Gon ok?”

“I wish I had an answer for you, Ani. Just make sure you listen to Qui and keep safe, this won’t be easy for any of us.” Obi-Wan watched as the tall majestic man sank to his knees before a colossal tree and centered his consciousness in the force. It was so easy for him to just give himself over to the force and allow it to take care of the future. He didn’t have the visions, he didn’t have the fears of watching everyone he loved die. “I won’t let you die for me, I have to be stronger.” He thought to himself.

“Padawan, we will be leaving with the Gungans shortly.” Obi-Wan turned to see his master towering over him. “Take good care of Master Mace, Qui-Gon would never forgive you if he did something stupid like get hurt.” Dooku knew his padawan well enough to know that he was trying to repress his emotions by using humor and wit. “I will take care of my own, that includes you.” Dooku took a breath and spoke as his master once more. “Qui-Gon will be the senior padawan on this mission, make sure you listen to his input and try not to think of tomorrow. Let today sort itself out first.” Jard smiled down at the young man and couldn’t believe that they would be parted in just a few minutes. Would this be the last time they would all see each other together?

“Yes, Master. We will be fine. We will do our duty.”

“I would expect no less from you both. May the force be with you.”

“It is time, Jard. The Gungans are waiting for us. May the force watch over you Obi-Wan, take good care of my padawan?” Mace reached out for Obi-Wan’s hand and gently squeezed it. They were brothers in arms, but also brothers that shared a father; they would always be connected by that and more. Glancing over to the trees he took one last look at the padawan kneeling in meditation.

“He’s in good hands, Master Mace.”

“Indeed, he will be.” Master Dooku and Master Windu walked up the ramp of a nearby transport, not turning back. They didn’t have many superstitions, but you never looked back, your path was forever forward.


 

Obi-Wan turned as the transport disappeared into the distance and ran into a solid surface. He was face to chest with Qui-Gon, bumping into him awkwardly. “It looks like the time has come. The Queen is ready to take back her capital for the people of Naboo. Are you ready Obi-Wan?” He swallowed before he answered, his name hallow on the lips of the man he had hurt time and time again, but this time it was his real name, not the nickname that brought them closer together. “Qui…”

“It’s ok Obi-Wan, we have a duty. We will protect the queen and see that Anakin is safe.” Qui-Gon had found his strength within the force during meditation; it told him that all would be well no matter the outcome. He had trusted the force his entire life, he would not doubt it now.

“Very well, if that is the way you wish it.” The hardness of the voice made Qui-Gon wince, but this was not his decision. This is what his Obi-wan wished, why did he feel as if he were the one at fault.

“I have very little say in anything that involves us…” Qui-Gon spoke softly but was heard by Ben, his body tensing at the words. “Please, don’t be that way, Qui.”

“Enough Padawan Kenobi, I tire of the games, it is time for us to leave.” Qui-Gon could tell by the flash of pain in the blue eyes that he was being harsh, but it was instinct, he was trying to protect his fragile heart. “Anakin, get aboard the transport with the Queen, we are leaving immediately.” Qui-Gon started to bark orders around them, making sure they were prepared for what was to come. Obi-Wan just stood silent in the same spot, unable to move. This was for the best; this would keep Qui-Gon safe. He would be hurt now, but he would forget him, he would find another love.

Qui-Gon looked up, startled to hear the thoughts he thought were blocked tightly behind adamantine shields. “You are wrong, there will never be another.” The older padawan strode up the ramp, pushing Anakin in front of him and waiting patiently for everyone to board.

A few hours later the transport made its way through secret tunnels to the palace hanger. The queen, her guards and the Jedi poured from the vehicle and stood, taking a deep breath. “We have word that the hostages are being held in the throne room, and Nute Gunray is with them. There was also word of a red and black tattooed being.” Qui-Gon looked to Obi-Wan and nodded his head. “We will take care of the Sith, you should be able to take over the throne room while we keep him occupied.” Looking around at the fighters around the room, he gazed at Anakin and pulled him close. “You will get into that cockpit and secure it. You will not MOVE from there, do you understand me?” 

“Yes sir, I will not move.” He hugged the boy one last time and watched as Ani climbed into the fighter and secured the hold. He would be safer there than anywhere else at this moment. Just as they were about to leave they spotted a figure blocking the entrance way of the door.  Padme and the rest of the guards immediately backed away from the figure and glanced to the Jedi. “We will handle this.” Obi-Wan flipped his robe off quickly, and ignited his light saber, with Qui-Gon following behind him.

“Very well, we will find another way around. May the force be with you both.” The queen took one last look at the Jedi and prayed that she would see them again.

Obi-Wan looked upon the figure as he opened his mouth to reveal sharp rotten teeth, a smile that was filled with eagerness to maim and harm the Jedi before him. It was a willingness to end all light upon this planet and within the galaxy. With both sabers lit and ready for a fight they watched on as Darth Maul ignited his weapon and were shocked to see that both sides were red as blood.

All three moved to the center of the hanger and started a deadly dance. Each pass of the red, green and blue light saber made a pattern in the thick air. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon went on the defensive immediately, they hoped to wear down the Sith, but he was so strong that they both realized immediately that they would have to do more than just defend and switched to the offensive. Just as they switched, Obi-Wan landed a slight blow to the arm of the Zabarak.

The smell of burnt flesh was now in the air and it earned a sneer from the dark man. “I have lived for this moment for many years, Kenobi. I will have my vengeance; you will not take my place at my master’s side. I will kill you!” Obi-Wan winced as he felt the hatred and anger fill the area around them. It was trying to overtake the light, it made him nauseous.

Obi-Wan paled at the voice, unable to process what that voice meant. “Bruck? Bruck Chun? How could you? I knew you weren’t the best padawan, but how could you take sides with a Sith?”

“I’m so glad that you figured it out, it took you long enough. I will take pleasure in eliminating your revolting lover’s life and then yours. Enough talk!” Suiting the words to the deed, Maul pressed on and pushed the two forms into the power generator room, laughing on the inside as he knew they would follow him to their death. His master was wrong, the two were so at odds with each other and the force that they were not all powerful, they were weak and pathetic. With each lunge and deflection the swords connected with each other, three colors coming together in an instant as Maul jumped from the narrow bridge in the generator room to a higher one. Each Jedi took turns jumping up after the Sith, one on either side as their conflict carried on.


 

Outside in a meadow of emerald the Gungan and Droid federation were continuing to battle for the lives of every creature on the planet. Dooku and Mace had their sabers lit, deflecting bolts that would have left many Gungans at the mercy of the force. It was looking like they would lose this day, as the forces continued to push back against the droid army. “We must try to end this, how much longer before the pilots get to the droid control ship? We must give them time to shut the droids down!”


 

Anakin startled as the fighter he was hiding in started up and started to power on, R2D2 in the back whistled a warning at the young boy. “Qui-Gon told me to stay here, I won’t disobey now!” R2 let out a shrill whistle that amused the young boy. “You are right, R2. Try to shut it down. While technically following Master Qui-Gon’s instructions I don’t want to anger him again.” Just as the boy started to think that they were bound for space no matter what he wanted, the fighter suddenly shuddered and shut down. “Let’s get out of here and hide by the crates. I don’t want that thing to start up again, R2.”  Anakin closed his eyes against the vision he had had the day prior of him flying that same ship in space and blowing something up. He had a choice, and he chose to obey his future master, he would not run off without thinking again.


 

Padme, Panaka and the royal guards quickly entered the throne room as they fought the droid forces protecting the Viceroy. They secured the room quickly to find Nute Gunray by the window, his arms thrown up in surrender. “This is not what we bargained for. Sidious told us…” Just as the Viceroy spoke, something inside his brain was ripped away and his lifeless body fell to the cold marble floor. “We have secured the throne room, please send a communication to the Jedi and see if we fair as well on the battlefield.”  Padme looked into the dead eyes of the alien that sought to enslave them, wondering what dark force had kept him from speaking.


 

As the battle of Theed continued on, both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan continued to fight for their lives and the lives of those that lived in the light. This was but the first step in a new Sith War. Landing a lucky blow, the sith suddenly knocked Obi-Wan off the ramp, Qui-Gon winced as he watched the body come to a hard blow and roll off. He knew that his Ben was not dead, but it was a distraction none the less. The anger started to roll off Qui-Gon and he thrust quickly at Maul and knocked him down the generator room several levels below. He followed quickly, landing steadily on his feet as Maul came to his, and they continued the skirmish with just the two of them.

Obi-Wan panted slightly and pulled himself to the catwalk, catching his breath for a moment as he looked up at the two sabers clashing. Qui-Gon was angry and letting the dark settle around him, a trap that the Sith had laid and one that Qui-Gon was playing right into. Obi-Wan swiftly leapt to his feet and jumped up to the higher bridge, trying to catch up.

Maul leered once again as he realized the tall Jedi was wavering before him. This would be the place for their last stand; this is where the two Jedi would die by his hand. The dark form retreated to a long hallway, filled with red rays that pulsed in a pattern every few minutes. Maul backed up several paces, letting the red wall settle in front of him, separating both Qui-Gon and the Sith.

Obi-Wan started to run down the hallway, feeling the dread that he would not make it in time to catch up with Qui-Gon. They both had to wait for the next pulse to once again come together in battle, but Qui-Gon, the ultimate Jedi, dropped to his knees in meditation, coming to terms with what was to happen. He knew this was the moment he dreaded. Just then the red wall plunged in front of Obi-Wan, keeping him inches from the man that meant everything to him. The young man realized what would happen.

“Wait!” Obi-Wan screamed out at Qui-Gon, who did not flinch, the Jedi saved his energy for one last push against the sith.

“Yes, Oafy-Wan. I always knew this was my destiny, not yours. I will enjoy taking everything from you, he will die! My master was wrong to think that you could destroy him, you are nothing but a weak padawan that should have been purged at your birth.”

“You will wait for me, Qui-gon, or so help me, I will never speak to you again!”

Qui-Gon let his force presence linger gently against Ben’s cheek and smiled. “I will do what I must.” Just as the force field dropped, Qui-Gon sprung to his feet and started at the red and black mass before him.

They continued to fight in the melting pit of the Theed generator room, as Obi-Wan was once again caught behind massive red shields. He was destined to watch his love die; there was no way to stop it. “Please Qui-Gon, please don’t leave me…”

“Young love, how cute!” The sith mocked Obi-Wan and it held the attention of Qui-Gon who was caught off guard by a jab to the face and a saber to the midsection of his body.

‘NOOOOOO!” Obi-Wan cried and glared at the smile upon Bruck’s face. Obi-Wan reached out in the force, only to feel Qui-Gon’s presence gently slipping away. He needed to finish this quickly, he had to save him!

“Too…easy.” Bruck stated as he kicked the man on the floor in front of him.

Just as the force field dropped, Obi-Wan swiftly attacked Bruck Chun with all his strength, anger and fear, all the things that they were taught never to use. They twisted and flipped in the air as they both knew the battle was coming to an end. Maul pushed the offensive, even with the anger that radiated off the young padawan he still dictated the pace of their match, he saw an opening and quickly thrust his leg out.  The blow caught Obi-Wan in the side and he tumbled onto the floor and into the melting pit, his saber flying past him into the heat below. Obi-Wan managed to grasp hold of a pipe, holding on for his life and that of Qui-Gon. This was the moment, this is where they lived or died.

Obi-Wan concentrated on the force and felt the force signature that he craved, still alive, but barely. He then was able to pinpoint the fallen lightsaber and call it to his hand as he jumped from the melting pit to land behind a surprised Bruck Chun. As the light saber flew into his hand he ignited the green blade and cut the man in half before him, the pieces falling into the pit below. There was no pride, no celebration, Obi-Wan quickly threw the saber down to the floor and rushed to Qui-Gon’s side.

“It’s too…late.” His eyes were closed and he struggled to re-open them. He wanted the last thing he saw in this plane to be that of the man he loved beyond everything.

“It is not too late. I can save you, please hold on for me Qui, please don’t leave me!” Obi-Wan grasped at his body and pulled him into his lap, trying to ignore the smell of burnt flesh, he knew Qui-Gon was going into shock from the pain.

“I will never…” Qui-Gon choked slightly as blood trickled from his lips. “Leave you. Promise me you will look after Ani.”

“No! You are going to stay with me, you are going to train him and love him. I will follow you into the force!”

“I…Love…” Just as the words left his mouth, his eyes closed and his body went limp.

“Don’t you leave me Qui-Gon Jinn!” The padawan screamed at the top of his lungs and quickly pushed down the feeling of futility as the force swirled around them both. He blocked out all the overwhelming emotion, and went to work. He sank himself into the living force and imagined the pathways of Qui-Gon’s body, feeling the weak heart beat and wished it to beat stronger.

Without thought, he reached for his comlink and opened a channel to all that were listening. “The Sith is no more, but Qui-Gon is down. Someone please send help to the generator room, quick…He’s dying.” Obi-Wan suddenly felt a surge in strength as his master fed him energy from their bond and Mace fed Qui-Gon directly through theirs. It had to be enough, he had to hold on.

Obi-Wan closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around the cooling body, trying to will the warmth back, staving off the effects of shock. “Live for me, Live with me, together. I know now that I cannot live in a world without you and understand that the same goes for you. I was selfish and didn’t see it before, please come back and love me…”The words poured out in between the sniffles and tears running down his cheek. It seemed like hours later, but truly it had only been minutes, when help had arrived. Padme, Panaka and medics were flying down the room and yelling to shut down the force fields. “Obi…oh Qui. The Droid control ship was destroyed and the Viceroy is dead, but I never thought it would cost…” Padme kneeled before the two and reverently touched the long brown braid.

“Excuse us, we need room to work.” The medic spoke to both the Queen and Obi-Wan.

“I won’t stay in your way, but I need to stay connected to him, he would be gone now if it weren’t for the force energy I’m feeding him.” Obi-Wan was surprised at how smooth his voice came through; he wanted to just take his Qui back into his arms and never again let go.

“Very well, we are going to move him immediately, if we don’t get him into the tank soon, he won’t have any chance at survival.” Everyone gently took hold of Qui-Gon’s large form, even Padme, and lifted him up on the floating med-bed.

“Live Qui, That’s an order…Live.”

Just as the last words left his lips, Anakin entered flying down the bridge and into the room. “Master….Master. MASTER!” Anakin flung himself at Qui-Gon’s still figure and started weeping. “I didn’t move master, the ship was going to go into space and I knew you wanted me safe. I didn’t move. I listened to your orders.” The boy was rambling hysterically as tears streamed down his face. It broke Obi-Wan’s heart even more and he clutched the young child in his arms and wrapped him around his body, clinging to the boy for dear life as he sobbed into his shoulder and neck.

“Do you feel what I’m doing Ani?” He whispered softly to the child, trying to calm him.

“It feels…you’re giving him the force.”

“That’s right Ani. Master Mace and Dooku are also offering what they can, until they can be here in person. Would you like me to guide you on how to help?” The little boy needed something to concentrate on, other than the darkness around them at every corner.

“Please…I don’t want to lose him.” Obi-Wan closed his eyes, trying to hold in his own tears.

“Me either, young one, let us go and offer what support we can. I have a feeling it is going to be a long night.” Obi-Wan then thought of putting the young boy down to follow the medic team but realized that he needed Ani’s comfort just as much and held on tighter as they walked behind Qui-Gon. It would be a long night indeed, but at least at this point, Qui-Gon was still with them and if one Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker had anything to say about it, he would be there for many many years to come.

Chapter Text

 


 

The room was dim and the only sounds were machines that beeped incessantly and echoed through the hallow room. Apparatuses hovered around the only bacta tank present in the private room. Inside the semitransparent red goo was a towering form that looked anything but living. Qui-Gon who was once the epitome of life and spirit now hovered just on the brink of death, even while entombed inside the life giving gel. His cheeks were pale; the blood drained from his face was visible even through the bacta. It had been touch and go from the instant they arrived in the medical unit; his heart beat was erratic and stopped more than once. Only the manifestation of his soon to be lifemate willed it to start once more. Obi-Wan was resting against a far wall for support as he felt his mate falter before him. He whispered, “Live for me…Beat for me.” It was a soft appeal but one that even in his condition Qui-Gon could not ignore.

Padme had taken Anakin from Obi-Wan after Qui-Gon’s first episode and led him to her chambers for a respite. The boy was inconsolable after his impending master lay lifeless upon the medical bed. He had to only to watch his master’s breath hitch once more to will all of his energy into Qui-Gon’s frail body. Padme was unable to watch the boy continue to suffer as he gave more energy that he couldn’t afford to lose. The Queen pulled the young boy to her side and led him outside the medical center. “You need rest my Ani. Your master wanted you safe and that included keeping you safe from your own exhaustion. We will return if anything changes, I promise.”

The boy just looked up at her, his eyes glistening with unshed tears. “No one will be with Obi-Wan. We can’t leave him on his own.”

Just as the words left his mouth, a surge in the force encompassed him. “He won’t be alone, my child. We will make sure that he has the support he needs. Right now, Obi and Qui would want you to rest.” Both Mace and Dooku were now feeding the initiate energy to keep him upright.

“Yes Masters.” The queen looked at the two older men, thankful for their support.

“There is no change at this point. However, Obi-Wan refuses to move from his side and he is not looking well himself.” She spoke, exhausted herself.

“We will take care of him, do not worry. We will contact you if anything happens.” Dooku spoke softly, knowing that Mace wanted nothing but to run into the medical ward and wrap himself around his padawan. They both watched as Anakin and Padme walked side by side, it was as if they had been friends for years. “It doesn’t take a force sense to see that those two are going to be trouble together.” Dooku tried to lighten the mood for his former padawan.

“At least they will have a future.” Dooku spun quickly to bring himself face to face with the dark-skinned master, Mace’s eyes widened in surprised by the quick contact. “By the gods, you’ve been my child, my student, my brother and over the years probably the closest to a love than I’ve ever had in my life, Mace, but you do yourself and those two young men a disservice with that sort of pity. The force will provide for them both, you must have faith!”

Mace was taken aback by the words spoken so forcefully. “Master?”

Dooku froze in his tracks, comprehending suddenly the words he had spoken. The battle was long and they had yet to rest, his mind was fuzzy with fatigue and worry, but he let his mouth say what his heart had kept quiet for many years. “I’m sorry, Mace. That was out of line. I’m exhaust…”

“Jard, please.” Mace interrupted the justifications that he knew were coming. “My padawan may not make it and he begged me to make sure that your padawan was taken care of. The last thing he said was to make sure Obi-Wan knew just how much he was loved. Don’t make the same mistake, my master. Don’t wait until it’s too late.” Mace closed his eyes against the misery and pain of the rejection that he feared was to come.

“You are a foolish man. How could you not know how much you were loved, how much you ARE loved.” Dooku drew Mace into his arms and embraced him tightly. “I never, I thought…”

Mace smiled slightly at the usually well-spoken man. “To think I spent years in the outer rim to avoid this very thing. I never thought you could see me as more than an old man.”

Just as the last word left Dooku’s mouth alarms set off all around them. Medics and Doctors sprinted toward them, as they heard Obi-Wan scream. The two men entered the dimmed room that held the bacta tank that would probably be Qui-Gon’s home for a good while to come. Dooku let go of Mace’s hand and draw near his padawan who was crumpled against the tank, his hands clenching and unclenching against the glass, as if trying to claw inside.

“His body is rejecting the bacta! I’ve never…” The doctor started looking at read-outs and shouting out orders to the others around them.

“His body isn’t rejecting the bacta…he’s giving up.” Obi-Wan choked out the words. “The pain is too much; he wants us to let him go. He wants ME to let him go.” Obi-Wan turned to his master with sad eyes. “How do you let go of your soul, master?”

Dooku knew that his former padawan was about to collapse at Obi’s words but he needed to be there for the younger of the two at this moment. “You don’t, my son. Your bond, is it still there?”

Obi-Wan shook his head, and frowned slightly. “I shut the bond down on the transport to Naboo. I tried to reopen it just a bit, but I hurt him and he refused me.”

Dooku slowly move toward him, feeling the boy’s eagerness to just run away at this moment through their bond. “Padawan, this isn’t your fault, this isn’t even Qui-Gon’s fault. This is what the darkness does, it tries to take away all hope, and it leaves you in despair. Your bond is still there and you need to reach out to him, you need to give him the hope to continue on, even through the pain.”

“What if he doesn’t listen, what if he rather depart this life than live it with me?”

Mace instantly brought himself to his knees next to them, letting his hands grasp the chin of the young man before him. “He would want nothing more than to live with you, Obi. You are HIS Ben; his last words to me were of you. He wanted nothing more than to see you live and know that if something happened that he loved you. He knew Obi. He knew what was coming and he was trying to spare you.”

As the medics continued to send electrical shocks to the submerged form, Obi-Wan closed his eyes and reached out to their bond, feeling it stretched to nothing more than a string. After a moment’s concentration he was amazed to be looking at a large grass covered hill with a single tree at its top. It was a familiar location. It was the place they had both met within the force back on Bandomeer so many years before. The closer that he got to the tree he noticed the form leaning against the tree trunk, head tipped back in what appeared to be sleep. “I waited for you.” The rumbling voice suddenly broke the silence and startled Obi-Wan.

“I wasn’t sure you wanted to see me.”

“Not want to see you? Have you lost your mind, my Ben?”

“No, I just lost my lifemate. He took on this Sith without me and is now refusing to return, he’s fighting the medical treatment.”

“It hurts, Ben. It hurts too much. Here it is peaceful and free of the pain.”

“I know, Qui. I know it hurts, but there are so many people that would miss you, your master, my master, that blonde headed bundle of energy that wants nothing more than to please you.”

“Master Mace and Dooku have each other, I have no doubt they will finally see they are meant to be together as we were, well maybe not just like us, but close enough.” The smile on the taller man was as radiant as the sun that was shining upon their hill. “Anakin will be ok; he has a family that will take care of him. Obi-Wan, would you think about training the boy?”

Ben quickly stood and started to pace, panic setting in at those words. “NO! You will train him. He’s meant to be yours, I would just mess him up. Please Qui-Gon don’t do this, don’t give up! Please don’t punish me for hurting you.”

“Oh Ben, you are not at fault for this.” Just as Qui-Gon was about to stand up and take the young man in his arms, he felt an aura he had not felt in more than ten years. Standing up quickly, he turned from the tree and saw a beautiful young woman approach them both. “Mother?”

“You have truly grown to be a handsome strong young man. You have made me proud as I watched over you.”

“Momma….” Ben watched as his love ran into his mother’s open arms, tears pouring down his cheeks.

“Oh my precious boy, I’ve never left you and I never will, but your soul cries out to his. Why are you giving up now?”

“I’m weary of the pain and so very tired. I don’t have the energy to fight anymore, even though I want nothing more than to open my eyes and see my Ben.” He spoke softly to the woman he never thought to see again.

“He came to lead you back; together you can both fight the agony. Jointly you can both do anything, apart is where you tend to have the trouble.” She grinned and pushed Qui-Gon away to brush his braid out of his face. “We will see each other again, Qui. I promise, but now is the time to fight, fight like never before. He is worth it, the force promises it.”

“I know he is momma. I wish you could know him. I wish you could see how happy he makes me, even when we’re fighting.”

His mother pulled him into her arms, looking back at Obi-Wan with a smile. “I know him. Who do you think sent him to you?” Obi-Wan and Qui-gon both tensed at those words. “You were so lost and so was he. You both needed each other and the world needs you both. The force has willed it, as it only wills every so many lifetimes. Fight my child, live and be happy and when it is time you will both come together, as is meant to be.”

“I love you, momma. I miss you so much.”

“I love you too, I will be watching over you both. Go. Live and love one another.” Just as the last words were tenderly spoken the form in front of Qui-Gon disappeared in a flight of exquisite butterflies.

As he watched them fly off the hill into the sunset he felt Obi-Wan press his body against his back. “She was so pretty, and she loves you so much. Will you fight with me, Qui? Will you try to come back?”

“Do or do not, there is no try.” Qui-Gon turned and embraced his soon to be lifemate, recognizing that he was doing the right thing.

Dooku and Mace held tightly to Obi-Wan as the alarms abruptly stilled and the steady beat of Qui-Gon’s heart was once again present on the machines. “I can’t believe this, he’s stable once again.” The doctor continued to flip through his data pad, seemingly unable to comprehend what just happened.

“They will be ok. They are fighting this together now, as it should be. I would suggest a med bed be sent in.”

“That’s against protocol; we only allow limited visiting hours while the patients are in bacta treatment.” The doctor responded.

“Fuck protocol! You will find him a bed, he’s the reason your patient is alive and he needs to rest. To take him away now would kill them both.” Mace spoke forcefully and gave the doctor a look that would have scared the Sith himself.

“Yes, Master Jedi. I didn’t mean to…” The doctor put in a few orders; one included a very comfy medical cot to place in front of Qui-Gon Jinn’s bacta tank. The man finished placing the medical orders and quickly left the room to the Jedi, all of a sudden uncomfortable in their presence.

“That was not very Jedi-like or Masterly, Mace.”

“Sometimes I just tire of being polite all the time, not to say I want to be a Sith, but I have little patience when it comes to protecting my family.” Mace hauled Obi-Wan into his lap and settled his head against his chest. He then leaned back into Jard’s sturdy arms. “I never felt more at peace, than within your arms. I hope you know that you are not alone in your feelings, Jard.” He needed to speak the words out loud. “I love you, I always will.”

Dooku turned a delicate shade of scarlet that Mace wasn’t used to seeing, but he enjoyed it, for all its sincerity. “Hush and meditate with me while we wait for Obi-Wan’s bed, we all need the rest.”

“Yes….Master.”

“Insolent brat.” Both masters chuckled at the inside joke and finally felt like the force was at work.


 

It had been days later that Obi-Wan lay in a medical cot in front of Qui-Gon, who was still suspended in bacta. They both slept peacefully now that they had the support of the other. The medical team grew concerned as the younger of the two continued to sleep deep, as if in a coma, but they were reassured by the masters that all was well and it was just a healing trance. The days that proceeded were filled with reports, clean up and plans for the future, now that the Trade Federation had been defeated.

Mace and Jard had put in their report to the council who had decided to travel to Naboo themselves, they wanted feel the taint of the Sith themselves and decide the best way to proceed for the future.

Anakin spent his days between sitting vigil with the two padawans or keeping Padme company during the moments she wasn’t swamped with making resolutions for her people. The times that Anakin didn’t sit watch, one of the masters took turns watching over the healing of their padawans. Mace no longer worried that his padawan wouldn’t see his knighthood, he knew this was his trial; he knew that he had passed and would live to see another fight.

Mace’s first day by Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon’s side were occupied with meditations on attachment, as Jedi they were allowed to love, but they were told that their love could not hold an attachment above that of the Force or the Jedi. He had always strived to live by the code, despite his former Master’s insistence that sometimes the code contradicted the very force it was meant to up hold. In the last months he had scrutinized the code. He had watched the Jedi Council weaken in their own understanding of the force itself.

They were all sentient beings; they were fallible in all things, including interpreting the will of the force. Attachment was healthy, attachment was what grounded them all and made them strive to protect those that couldn’t protect themselves. Love was more than just an emotion, it was the very reason that Mace thought the light would always win out against darkness. Not to say that the light wouldn’t have casualties along the way, but the code must change, it was time the shadows were lifted from their hearts and celebrated within the light once again. It was that way in the beginning and they had lost their way.

Mace opened his eyes as his meditation lifted, his mind sought out his padawan to ensure his presence was indeed still there, he kept having to remind himself that the padawans had lived, they would wake when they were whole again. “Such heavy meditations, my own, did you come to any conclusions?” Dooku stood just behind Mace as he kneeled to the floor, a bit slower with age, especially in the light of their recent battles.

“We must change the code, Jard. There was a time when our rules were needed, and I do not judge the old Council for it, but we need to show the current council that we are in a different time and if we do not relax the code and take care of each other, we are lost to the dark, not just the Sith but the dark itself.”

Mace finished his sentence and felt the strong arms of his former master wrap around him. “I have thought that myself for years, but it was not time to fight, they weren’t ready. Shall we fight this one together?”

Mace turned his face to look at the slightly older man, his beard filled with more white than grey, it was a face that he would love forever, his attachment was strength, not a weakness. “Together, not just in this fight but in everything?”

“My dear former padawan, are you….proposing?”

“Life is short and I tire of the games we have played throughout the years. Count Dooku of Serenno, Would you bond yourself to me in this life?” Mace placed his trembling hands against his beloved’s cheek, feeling the warmth that had been there for years, warmth that even with a new padawan was just for him.

“You know how much I hate that title, however if the council chooses to reject our attachments, we may find ourselves a home on Serenno.”

“Just this once, a straight answer would be great, Jard.”

Dooku just nodded his head and smiled, leaning forward to press his bearded lips to that of the man that held his heart for more than twenty years. “It is a good match when the padawan teaches the master. You have taught me so many things over the years, and now our padawans have taught us that honesty and love will win the day. I love you, Mace, and would be honored to spend the rest of my years at your side.”

Just as they embraced they both felt the muted bonds of their wards flare to life. Obi-Wan, who had been resting peacefully upon the cot, quickly opened his eyes and turned his head towards the tank. His ever changing eyes locked with the crystal blue of his mate. Qui-Gon was awake in the tank, looking upon his family once again. Mace, Jard, and Obi-Wan all heard the faint whisper of a voice inside their mind.

Out.

Mace laughed for the first time in days, knowing the worst was finally over. “Yes my padawan, we will get the doctor.”

As they padded from the room in search of the doctor, Obi-Wan turned his head toward the tank and smiled shyly. Propping himself up on his elbows, he pressed his weak body into a sitting position and contemplated rising from the bed. He hadn’t eaten in days and was weak from the healing trance, but he needed to be closer, he need to be able to see his beloved’s eyes. As he pressed himself off the cot, onto unsteady legs, he paused a moment before taking a step. Careful, my love. I may be the one in the tank, but you provided much of your life energy to sustain me. Obi-Wan smiled at the voice inside his head, it felt good to have that voice back once more. How could he have ever thought to live without it?

Never alone again.

“Never again.” Obi spoke out loud in response.

Just as he had made his way to the tank and laid his palm against the warm surface, Mace and Dooku had returned with the doctor and his team. “If you could please leave us for the moment? Once Padawan Jinn is out of the tank and settled into his own room, we will call you back.”

“No, I don’t want to leave him.”

“It will be ok padawan, you can use this time to shower and eat and by the time you are done, you can return.”

Obi-Wan wanted to argue, but he knew it was futile. “Yes, my Master.”

You need food, M’love. It is only for a short time.

“Ok, it seems that everyone is against me on this one. Please let us know the moment he is settled, Doctor.”

Obi-Wan left the room, and slowly made his way to the quarters that were provided for them. He stripped off the clothes from his body, and looked at the blood that still coated the white cloth; he had no desire to keep a reminder of what he almost lost and threw them in a trash nearby. Stepping into the water, he let the heat wash away the pain of the past few days. It was as if in this single shower, everything swept away down the drain. He would soon be back with his lifemate and they would be joined forever.

Obi-Wan stepped from the shower and wrapped a white towel around his naked body as he regarded himself in the mirror. He anticipated something more than just the same body from the days prior, but he was mostly unchanged. Everything had altered in a instant, he had fought and killed a sith, but he was still Obi-Wan, he was still a Padawan that strived to be a Knight. Leaving the fresher, he quickly dressed and headed to the kitchens to find food. As he entered he saw the young Queen laughing as a large pitcher of ice cold water was placed before young Anakin, his eyes bulging out in what he thought was extravagance. “It is just water Ani. Only on your planet is it thought of as gold. I shall take you out later to one of our lakes and teach you to swim!”

Obi-Wan coughed to interrupt, “May I join you?”

“Obi! You are awake!” Just as the words were spoken he had an arm full of Jedi initiate.

“I am glad to see you too, Anakin. Qui-Gon has awoken as well; they are getting him out of the tank as we speak.”

“Can we visit him now?”

The energy was addictive, but he knew that Qui-Gon would have his arms full soon. “Not just yet, he’s still very weak and he needs time to rest. I promise, once he can stay awake for more than a few moments, I will bring you to visit.”

“Ok Master Obi.” The words that left his mouth didn’t register with Anakin but they did with both the Queen and Obi-Wan. He never had really thought of being a master, of taking his own padawan. It seemed like such a far off possibility, but now that he and Qui-Gon would be bonded, they would both teach him. How had the young boy seen what they did not, it was amazing.

The food and company were just what Ben needed, but he still ached to be with his other half. “I need to head back now. Thank you for the company, little Ani and my Queen.”

“It is good to see you awake, Obi-Wan.”

“Don’t forget to tell Qui-Gon that I miss him and want to see him soon.”

“Of course, Padawan.” Obi-Wan tugged at a small tuft of hair behind Anakin’s bleached hair. He quickly started to head back to the medical facilities, his thoughts on nothing but reuniting with his Qui. “Excuse me, Padawan Kenobi?”

The words jarred him from his thoughts. “Yes, ….?” He turned to see who he was addressing and got a sense of warning from the force.

“We haven’t met as of yet, but I am the new Chancellor, and former Senator of Naboo, Sheev Palpatine.”

“I am sorry, Chancellor Palpatine. I hadn’t noticed that you were there. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

“No, No, my boy! It is my pleasure to meet the savior of Naboo and the slayer of the Sith.” Obi-Wan’s pulse started to quicken at the words of the sith.

“I am just a padawan; I did what I had to.”

“Such modesty. I have read the report and you bested the sith, surely an apprentice, but powerful enough to best even a proper Jedi Master. Certainly you see how special that makes you?”

“I am nothing special. My partner was in trouble and I did what I could to save him.” Obi-Wan suddenly felt a darkness pressing at his mind, a familiar presence that he couldn’t place. “Senator, I mean Chancellor, if you will excuse me, I don’t feel very…well.”

Palpatine moved closer to the young man, his body pressing closer. “Perhaps I should assist you back to the medical facilities?” He could feel the unrelenting darkness against him, around him, trying to settle against his chest. No, this darkness wasn’t left over from Bruck; this was the presence he had remembered for years. “You!”

Palpatine sneered as he brought the dark force to bear on the throat of the padawan, choking him ever so slightly. “Yes, YES. You have bested my apprentices over the years. Your pathetic father could not finish the job, and neither could the fallen Padawan Chun. I tried to turn you, I tried to kill you, but your pathetic mate was always there, always in the way!” As the older man spoke, the temperature in the room dropped from the darkness. “Now, you will…DIE!”

Just as the last word was spoken, Ben felt his throat tighten even more, he struggled from the grasp. He felt the worry through his bonds, and quickly tried to shut them down, he didn’t want his love and master to feel his death first hand.

BEN!

I love you, Qui-Gon. It’s Chancellor Palpatine, he’s the Sith Lord. As the last words were thought, he finally released himself from the dark lord’s grasp and ignited his sapphire saber. “Why did you haunt me? Why did you try to turn me? What was so important about me?” The words poured from his mouth as he stood toe to toe with a Dark Lord of the Sith, something no one had done since the great Sith Wars.

The man before him just cackled gleefully, igniting his own red bladed light saber. “It is simple. I had foreseen my destruction at your hands. I had seen what a glorious Sith you would have made, but I value my life more. You will die now, pathetic Jedi.”

As they both started their deadly duel, Obi-Wan ducked debris from around the room as the Sith pushed the articles at his body. “You are not strong enough to defeat me boy! Perhaps it was a false vision that was sent to me, you are nothing but a pathetic urchin that somehow found his way into the Jedi.”

He could feel both his bond with Qui-Gon and his master insisting that he open up, but he would not. He would face his future; he would not burden them if death was to come. “I am a Jedi, I am a padawan, but even I know that the Light will always defeat the darkness.” The padawan suddenly went on the offensive, flipping and deflecting each blow. He opened himself to the force completely for the first time in his life, allowing it to take over his body and mind, he was at complete peace.

Dooku and Mace rushed into the room, shocked to see Obi-Wan fairly glowing in the brightness of the force, keeping up with the dark form.  The dark lord looked to the doorway, a moment of distraction that left him open to Obi-Wan’s strike. Fury radiated from the figure just as his head was severed from his body.

It was over, it was done. Obi-Wan collapsed to the floor, his body overcome with exhaustion. “He was the Master, our very own Chancellor…” Dooku grasped the light saber from his padawan’s hand and shut it down, pulling the form into his arms. “It’s ok, Padawan. It is finally over. Sleep…sleep.”

Mace picked up the fallen lightsaber, looking down at the body, whose head lay nearby. “We must contact the Council immediately. The galaxy is about to find out that its leader was not only a Dark Lord of the Sith but that he was executed by the Jedi.” Mace knew when the words were spoken out loud that the future was in motion, who knew what would come of Obi-Wan’s actions, but they would all protect him, they would make sure of that. They were now a family, a family that would be denied no longer.

Chapter Text

The partitions were closing in as the moments ticked by, Qui-Gon felt like his whole world was ending when he sensed Ben once again trying to close down their bond, but this time to save him from feeling his own demise. It was as if he had awoken from the bacta tank to merely another nightmare, this one ironic in its tragedy. His heart was thumping erratically as the healers tried to stabilize him once again, the panic attack taking its toll on the recently healed body. “You must breathe with me, Padawan!” The doctor tried to get his attention as the minutes continued on. “Match my breath that is it; come back to us, Qui-Gon.”

Qui-Gon hardly registered the words but managed to calm his body so he could concentrate on his love. He wanted to jump from the bed and rush to his side, to protect him from that snake of a man that called himself Chancellor. His mind was willing but his body was unable and it made him feel all the more helpless. The door slipped open suddenly to reveal his master, “Master! Obi-Wan…Palpatine…Sith…” The words rushed through his lips, the panic coming back in droves.

“At peace young one, you will undo all your progress.” The adored master made his way to the medical bed and clasped his hand around the pale and fragile form. “Breath, Qui. Your Ben lives and the sith is dead. That’s it my boy, watch my chest and breath with me.” The alarms stilled and the monitors gently started to beep, filling the air with their sounds. “Oh my padawan, I was so worried. If I wasn’t bald already, I would be grey before my time with the worry you’ve given me over the years.”

They often teased each other about their hair. Mace had decided long ago to keep to his race’s tradition of shaving their head. It was a sign of respect to the warriors of long ago, who claimed that vanity was the biggest threat to their society. It was not required in this age, but it was something he could do to honor his heritage.

Mace ran his hands gently through the mane of his padawan and smiled, feeling the silkiness between his fingers. Qui-Gon was the opposite of his master, he could not wait to be knighted in order to grow his hair out, because it was his mother’s favorite attribute when growing up. She cherished his long hair and he wanted to the chance to honor her in life as he did in death. In the previous years, it was something of a battle to get Qui-Gon to trim his hair as was required of Jedi Padawans; he would try to find excuses for skipping such appointments. Tugging at the hair behind his ear the master gently brought the braid to his lips and brushed the tip. “It will not be long and this will be gone, I do not believe you will have to endure another padawan trim.” His lips grinned, but the smile did not reach his eyes.

“I didn’t mean to trouble you, I thought. Well, I guess it doesn’t matter what I thought, I failed you and Obi-Wan. I should have realized that Ben and I are stronger together than apart. The sith, Bruck…He knew I would protect him, that I would try to trade my life for his and it would have worked if not for the stubbornness of my long loved companion.”

“That I will not argue with, young one, you let your fears and emotions rule the moment and that instant almost cost each and every one of us.” Mace squeezed his hand, hoping his voice didn’t betray just how devastated he had been. Just as they were about to continue their conversation the door once again opened and in stepped a tired looking master with an arm full of unconscious padawan. Obi-Wan’s body was curled into the warmth of his master, as if he was once again a child, holding close to their parent for protection.

“Is he, hurt?” Qui-Gon struggled to get out through his emotions.

“He had some minor burns, scratches and bruising around his neck, but the medics cleaned them up and applied the proper bandages. I had to put him into a force induced sleep, his mind was fragile to say the least and his body beyond any exhaustion I have ever felt from a human.” Dooku soothingly rocked the body in his arms, glad for the weight as it was a reminder that the boy he loved was alive and well. When he had entered the room and seen his padawan towering above the beheaded body of the chancellor he was relieved but horrified by the blank look on his face. He knew the boy was in shock and didn’t hesitate to put him instantly to sleep. There would be time later for questions, this was not it.

Qui-Gon tried to shift over in the bed, still weak from the injuries and the lack of movement over the last few days. Mace frowned and helped him move over in the bed, pulling the covers down slightly and nodded at Dooku.

“I know the healer will not like it, but please, let him rest with me. I don’t…” The monitors started to beep a bit faster as the panic started to rise once more. “I need to know he’s alive and breathing…our bond. It’s still only barely there, he needs to wake and stop blocking me.”

“We don’t care what the doctor likes, his place is at your side, and we will ensure it, Padawan.” Dooku shook his head slightly at Mace, he was so glad to have this man still in his life and finally know that they loved each other in every way. To think they had wasted so much time because of stubbornness.

The past doesn’t matter, love. We have each other now, and that is all that matters. Live in this moment with me, Jard. Don’t dwell on the past.

You are such a wise man, Have I also told you how beautiful you are to me, inside and out?

I do believe you’ve managed to keep that one a secret. I think my padawan is staring at us strangely; perhaps we should be paying attention?

I remember a time when you could have a conversation with me and still pay attention, perhaps you need more practice?

I have a feeling I’ve created a monster…

“Let’s leave the profanity and scare tactics alone this time, Mace, and try a bit of the diplomacy I taught you. Yes, padawan?” Mace’s face scrunched up and turned away before Qui-Gon could see him blush. He knew that he had not been considerate to the doctor, but he was tired of protocol. It sometimes had its place, but not when it would ban their family from seeing each other. He would be sure to find the doctor later and ask for forgiveness.

“Master, what did I miss?” Dooku gently stepped to the side of the bed and lowered his precious package to the soft mattress. Lengthy arms wrapped around Obi-Wan swiftly, the sigh coming from Qui-Gon was one of relief and joy. He sensed the life presence of the man he loved and he was truly unharmed, even if exhausted.

“I think he’s forgotten all about us now, shall we return to our rooms now? I find myself beyond exhaustion.” Mace looked to the two boys, Qui-Gon’s body almost completely wrapped around the smaller. They had each other and didn’t need their masters; they just required rest and time. Reaching out to his Jard, he grasped his hand tightly in his. “Our rooms? Does that mean I don’t have to sleep alone, my master?”

“Yes, our bed as it should have been for many years. I talked to Master Yoda and the council is seeing to…the Chancellor’s…body.” He didn’t want to acknowledge that monster as anything but a sith. “The council is giving us time to rest, but we are required to appear before them first thing tomorrow.” He would not let the future worries destroy the promise of the present. His lover pressed closer to his body, with a promise of protection from the night’s nightmares that were certain to come.

“How gracious of them to give us a whole night to rest.” Mace scowled and snuggled into Dooku’s arms, not wanting to leave the warmth. “It is what it is, beloved. They have a job to do, and one that I do not envy them. Let us get to our rooms, I find my legs will not hold out much longer.”

Mace’s fingers gently ran down his lover’s chest, well soon to be lover and shivered at the contact. “Just to sleep my randy, young love.” Dooku laughed.

“You always did ruin all my fun!”

“Oh, I don’t plan on ruining anything; I just want us to be fully awake when I ravish you.”  The two men, with their hands still clasped, glanced at the peacefully sleeping padawans and left the room, each leaning on the other for support.


 

Obi-Wan awoke slowly, something he wasn’t known to do very often. He normally was up immediately, even when not on missions. He was in the state of not quite dreaming, but not fully awake. Reaching out with his senses he felt tranquil, he felt at peace. He felt the warmth of a body behind him and it only took a moment for his mind to comprehend that the warmth behind him was that of his mate. The person whom he had thought was gone forever just days before. His thoughts drifted to the last ten days and all that happened, the fight for Naboo’s freedom, his acceptance of young Anakin Skywalker in his life and how he was almost stubborn enough to lose his very soul. His eyes tightened as he awoke fully, remembering Qui-Gon’s pale skin as he floated in the life giving gel of the bacta tank. His breath quivered and he sobbed soundlessly as he remembered when that precious heart that belonged with him had given up and stopped beating.

“It is over, my love…” He heard the words weakly whispered into his ear, arms wrapping around him protectively. Obi-Wan turned into the warmth once more and wept for all they had been through, all the pain and worry. “Let it out and let it go, Ben. Grieve for the pain that we both went through so that we can move on to our future, because that is truly what we have now, a future. You feel it don’t you?”

The head nuzzled into his chest, nodded up and down, almost burrowing deeper into the embrace. The bond between the two was still just an afterthought in both minds; it stretched between both bodies, barely recognizable by either man. “Obi-Wan, I know you’ve been through so much these last days, but please…”

Ben felt the body around him tense as his breathing ran shallow. “Qui, are you ok?”

Obi-Wan’s head pushed back from the warm chest to look into the still haunted eyes. “The bond, Ben, please let me in.”

Ben gasped, “Oh Love, I’m so sorry. I didn’t even think that it was still blocked, I just didn’t want you to feel my death.”

“There is no death, there is only us in the force. We will soon see to that, bonded beyond this mortal life.”

“When did you become such a poet?”

“Well you enjoy astrophysics and I prefer Master Lyalia’s poetry classes.”

They both started laughing, until Qui-Gon’s face took on an ashen look. “You’re still tired, Qui-Gon. It is going to take you a while to recover.”

“I’m afraid to sleep, that I’ll wake up and this was all a dream. That holding you close and feeling your body next to mine was just a cruel dream.” Ben leaned up on his elbows and laid a tender kiss against the beloved lips, dry and chapped from dehydration they were still the loveliest thing he ever felt. Those sweet lips were a part of Qui-Gon and they were forever his.

Obi-Wan reached deep inside himself and let the shields between him and his mate fall, letting the man deeper inside his psyche than anyone before. He laid his very soul bare, his fears, his regrets, his ambitions, and his love. It all remained open for his mate to take or reject. Qui-Gon inhaled as the sensations ran over him, a single tear falling from his eyes and dripping down his cheek.

“Love?” He asked, as fear started to overcome him. Perhaps he didn’t like what he saw; perhaps he couldn’t be bonded to someone so…damaged.

“Oh Ben, how could you think you are anything but beautiful inside and out. You are such good soul, and a good man. My heart aches at the loneliness and despair you’ve been made to hide.” Deepening the kiss that Ben so sweetly offered, they both pressed their bodies closer to the other. The feeling of their firm flesh pressing against the other, Qui-Gon let his hands roam down over the small tunic that covered his love’s backside, cupping the globes gently within his generous hands.

As his fingers gently massaged the muscle underneath the fabric Obi-Wan whimpered into the caress, rocking his hips gently against his lover. They moved together, the friction building between the two as they moaned into the intensifying kisses. “OH, Qui. I want you so much.”

The words sent quivers down Qui-Gon’s spine as he thrust his erection harder against Obi-Wan’s thigh, wanting to feel more friction, needing something, more. The monitors that were still connected, started beeping frantically as their pace and pulses quickened. Ben lifted his hands and ran them through his lover’s bronze hair, tugging a bit harder to bring them closer together. “Oh Ben, oh fuck…”

“No, not quite, but I don’t think you’ve healed enough for more.” They both chuckled, feeling the tension of the moment break. It was both welcomed and needed as they were both feeling overwhelmed.

“Brat!” With that one word, Qui-Gon turned his body swiftly and pushed Ben into the bed, covering his lover completely. “I’ll show you healed…” Just as Qui-Gon’s fingers lowered to the small clothes and plunged inside to feel Ben’s heavy cock, they were disturbed by a cough coming from the doorway.

“Padawan Jinn, Padawan Kenobi, we did not fight your master’s request that you be allowed to rest together, but you are definitely not cleared for such…exercise.” The doctor had his arms crossed and looked as if the sith himself had come into the medical facilities.

Qui-Gon grumbled as he rested his head on Obi-Wan’s chest, his breath coming heavy from arousal. “Perhaps he’s right, my love. Some quick rutting is not what I would have for our first time, much less the start of our life together forever.”

Ben pulled the tease to his lips and ignored the doctor staring menacingly at them both. He pressed his lips once more to taste his mate, a taste that he would forever be addicted to. “He may be right, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.”

“What would your master preach? Patience, padawan?” Ben groaned and pushed Qui-Gon off his body to his side.

“I have one master, I don’t need another. I will have you in my bed for more than sleep soon, or gods help me I will throw you against the wall and enrapture you.”

“Enough, your heart is not yet up to the strain, Padawan Jinn. The monitors were going off for a reason and that is what led me here. If you cannot restrain yourselves then we can find you rooms on opposite sides of the medical ward.” The doctor was getting tired of the Jedi and wanted nothing more than to get rid of them, but he knew that the boy was not ready for such things yet.

“Yes sir, we will behave. I’m sorry that we have given you trials.” Qui-Gon looked chastised, not wanting to burden a man that was just there to help them.

“Your vitals have improved since last night, and I have no doubt you will be up to such things quickly.” The doctor took a few more readings and then left the two alone once again.

“That was embarrassing, to say the least.” Obi-Wan snuggled back up to that beloved body and ran his hands soothingly against the scar that was still visible from the sith blade.

“It is ok love, I’m still here. We are both still here.”

“Palpatine was…”

“We don’t have to talk about it until you are ready.”

“No, I want to. I just don’t know how to describe it. I have never felt such darkness before; it was a hatred that burned with each breath. He wanted nothing more than to extinguish my very existence, he was scared though. Not from the Jedi, or of being exposed, he was scared of me, a mere padawan.”

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are many things, but a mere Padawan just doesn’t do you justice. You have beaten two sith, you have battled the very council and come out better for it. You are the change that this galaxy needs and he saw that as a threat, rightly so.”

Ben just slightly nodded his head, knowing he needed meditation more than anything at this moment. Feeling the lips against his head, he sighed once more. “I love you.” It was just a simple statement that a few days before seemed so complicated.

“And I you, more than anyone will ever understand.”

Just as the words left his mouth, the door opened to reveal both their masters, looking decidingly better for their own sleep, or was it something else, they both wondered. Qui-Gon quickly caught the look that Mace gave Dooku as they both stepped closer to the medical bed, it was warmth, and it was love. They had finally connected the dots. It had been a long time in coming, he thought to himself. “Masters, you look…rested.”

Dooku looked away for a moment, trying to calm his blush in front of their charges. “As do you, padawan.”

Mace chuckled and took a seat closer to the two. “I’m sure we both have a lot to speak of, but it will have to wait until later. The council has demanded our audience immediately.” Mace’s face turned serious. “I’m not sure that you both are ready for the stress.”

“Of course we are ready, we are Jedi.” Ben moved away from the warmth of Qui-Gon’s embrace. “Qui-Gon however had nothing to do with our Chancellor’s demise and I think he would benefit from more rest. The doctor is worried about his erratic heartbeat still.” Suiting the words to actions, Ben swung his feet off the bed and started to rise from the bed. He swayed for a moment before catching his balance and steadying his form.

“You are both are still not physically ready, there is no shame in this, but the council insists on seeing you both. You will rely on us to support you, no arguments.” Dooku’s voice was rough with emotion, he had objected to this meeting so soon after the ordeal but the council had their own agenda to deal with, he even understood it to a point.

“Yes, Master.” They both said in unison.

“I would suggest that you each help the other dress, but that might not be such a good idea at this point. Why don’t you allow your masters to help you, it might be the last time we do.” The silence filled the room as the younger eyes sought older, wiser ones. “It is uncertain how the council will take these events, but I am certain that this is the last time you will both call us master.”

Obi-Wan pressed closer to Dooku and wrapped his arms around the older man. “You will both always be our master. Just as Master Windu still calls you, no matter what they decide you will always be in our hearts as master, friend and family.”

“You have come such a long way in the last few months, I am so glad to call you my family, all of you. Shall we greet what is to come?” Dooku motioned to the door and offered a robe to his padawan.

“Absolutely, I no longer fear the future. There is no death, there is the force, and I know that I shall never truly be alone ever again.” Obi-Wan took the robe in hand and slid it around his shoulders and took a deep breath. He walked from the door, head held high, and ready to face his future, his love just two steps behind.

Chapter Text

As the four Jedi walked the halls together, they were hushed, yet thoughtful of the future, their future, together. The masters feared for their padawan’s place within the order and the padawans were concerned for their time with their masters. It was a relentless circle that invaded their every thought on the way to the rooms set aside for the Jedi Council in the Naboo Palace. The people that passed them in the halls gave them a wide berth, as if they were tainted by darkness, gossip was something that few could stop, it spread like wild fire. Dooku looked behind, gazing at the sight, a padawan two steps behind, would he ever see this again after today, or would they walk together as equals? Mace looked over at the elder man, smiling as he picked up the direction his thoughts were taking.

Never say never, old man. You once thought to never have another padawan, and here you are.

How did I raise such an insolent knight, I do wonder?

If they are knighted today, tomorrow or three years from now, they will always be part of our family.

Do not mourn for the future, my love.

I may have raised an insolent knight, but he has far surpassed my wisdom. Thank you for not letting an old man wallow in his own emotions for too long.

You are NOT old, but you are quite welcome.

Dooku looked forward once more, ending his mental conversation with Mace, wanting to savor this last walk to visit the council as master and padawan, if that was indeed how the future panned out. Obi-Wan smiled slightly, sending out a wave of love and reassurance to his master, knowing the way his thoughts had drifted. As they approached the main hall and walked the stairs to the chamber above the masters stopped briefly, halting their progress.

“What is this all about?” Mace’s body tensed as he looked ahead and saw Coruscant Security Forces lining the hall above.

“You both will stay close to us. Obi-Wan, my padawan, you must stay quiet, we will handle this.” Dooku spoke through clenched teeth.

Obi-Wan tensed at the situation, but shut his eyes briefly and sunk himself into the force, it would provide an answer, he had to trust that he did the right thing and the Jedi would protect him from the fall out. Suddenly his stomach lurched at the thought, knowing the council found him less than favorable, would this finally be the end? Sensing his thoughts, Qui-Gon stepped closer to his mate, embracing him with the force. It was almost as a protective blanket that could keep everything at bay.

It will turn out ok Obi-Love. They have a job to do, just as we do, let it play out before you think the worse. Do not let them see or smell fear, you did what you had to do and we and the council will make sure they understand the situation.

They will not see it that way, I’m afraid. They only see a Jedi who murdered the newly christened Chancellor. I should have kept him alive; I should have found a way. They will blame the Jedi for my actions, this could destroy us!

Calm yourself, love. You have come so far, do not fear now. We will be done with the darkness once and for all; don’t leave me alone in the light.

Those words sent a chill down Obi-Wan’s spine, his mate spoke the truth. They had come so far in the last few months, that it would be a tragedy to let the dark win now. Closing his eyes, he enveloped his own presence around Qui-Gon, letting him feel his love and comfort, the fear dissipating as quickly as it came.

 As they reached the double doors, the commander stepped forward and obstructed the doors. “We have an arrest warrant for one Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. You will surrender him to us, the charge is high treason for the assignation of Chancellor Palpatine.”

“Jedi have diplomatic immunity within the republic. Any charges that are laid have to go before the Jedi Council first and foremost. It is up to them to hand over said Jedi.” Dooku spit out the words, his temper just barely under control as the doors in front of them opened and a very upset Yoda approached the scene.

“Correct, Jedi Master Dooku is. Out of your jurisdiction you are until ruled the council has.”

“We will not be denied our prisoner so you can whisk him away.”

“Away he will not go. Attend our council meeting you will. Learn the truth all will.” Yoda turned and walked back into the chamber, looking at the concerned faces of the rest of the council. They were dangerously close to the end of the Jedi Order, it all hinged on the handling of one padawan.

As Yoda took his seat among the other eleven Jedi members, the two masters and their padawans entered, kneeling before the council. Their heads bowed, they waited for what was to come. The commander of CSF took up residence near the door; he would see that Jedi Kenobi was in custody before the end of this meeting.

Mundi was the first council member to speak, knowing that Yoda was perhaps too close to the situation to be unbiased. “It is with a heavy heart that the Jedi Council holds this meeting upon Naboo soil. Called you were to answer for the death of Sheev Palpatine, Former Senator of Naboo and ruling High Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. Rise Master Dooku, Master Mace.” His voice was steady as the two older Jedi rose from the marble floor. “Present were you at the death of Chancellor Palpatine?”

“Yes, but not for the entire exchange. Master, we were watching over Padawan Jinn’s recovery at the time. We had sent Obi-Wan for rest and food, after his days sitting vigil over his soon to be mate.”

The commander scowled and mumbled at the questioning, wanting this to be over. “Silent you will be, or removed you can be. You are here at our discretion, remember that you should.” Yoda’s words were sharp, almost vindictive in their delivery. Dooku almost smiled as he could feel the protectiveness of the ancient master. In fact he could feel the protective thoughts of all the council, including those that never quite understood and approved of their padawans. It was enough to calm his fears; they would at least have a fair “trial” without the prejudices of the past. “If we are finished? Master Dooku, when were you aware that your Padawan was engaged with the Chancellor, was it after his death?”

“I felt a flare of fear and remorse through our bond. Obi-Wan was resigned to his own death and warned me that the Chancellor was the Sith Master to the apprentice that was killed here on Naboo.” Dooku swallowed deeply, remember the fear and mourning of that particular moment. “I could feel the SITH wrap his darkness around the throat of my padawan and try to choke the life from him. Obi-Wan took that moment to shut down our bond and both I and Master Windu ran for them. When we approached the room we could feel the darkness swirling around us. The doors opened and debris was flying about, targeting my young apprentice. Both had their sabers lit and were fighting to the death. Obi-Wan glowed in the light. It was…balance. He was taking the darkness of the Sith and tempering it with his own light to bring balance within the moment.”

The entire council gasped at the words and Yoda interrupted. “Prophecy you speak of, The Chosen one you believe our young padawan to be?”

“He is my chosen one, master. In that moment I could see him as the greatest among us. There was no malice in his actions, he fought to protect the galaxy, and he fought to protect those he loved.” Dooku stood behind his still kneeling padawan and rested his hands protectively on his shoulders. “We witnessed the death of Chancellor Palpatine, this was no assignation, he was not defending himself against a rogue Jedi, he was on the offensive and actively trying to wipe our young ward from existence.”

“We are to take the word of his master?! He would say anything to protect the boy!” The commander paced from the door and addressed the council with fury. “It is the word of you Jedi! How do we know any of this is true?”

Ignoring the outburst, Mundi sneered at the commander and turned his attention back to the Jedi before them. “Rise Padawan Kenobi.” Obi-Wan gracefully rose to stand at attention in front of the council. His thoughts still back within the room with the Sith master, going over the events within his mind. “The truth, your master speaks?” Mundi continued.

Bowing his head before the council, Obi-Wan shrugged silently. “I cannot speak to what he saw; I don’t believe myself to be chosen for anything. I had left Qui-Gon’s chamber to get some food and rest. I had the honor to take my meal with both the Queen and Anakin. I was heading back to Qui-Gon’s healing chamber when I was cornered by the Senator. He said he wished to congratulate me on defeating the dark being, but something didn’t feel right. I could feel the hatred radiating off him, it made me sick in its depth.” Obi-Wan took a deep breath, pausing to continue. “His voice, his very presence was familiar to me and I fought to place it as we talked, then it finally all clicked into place. He had been a presence within my mind since I was just a boy of nine years. He was the constant companion that told me I was worthless; he was the darkness that led me to Bandomeer. When I let on that I knew who he was, he admitted it. He admitted to the many apprentices that he had over the years and how he had first tried to turn me and then sought my death. He…feared me.”

“Of course he feared you! He was just a humbled old man, and you were going to kill him!”

“SILENCE!” Mundi’s voice carried over the room and Obi-Wan almost smiled at the protectiveness. Mundi had always been hard on him, but he wouldn’t allow this man to bully him into conviction.

“I felt the force wrap around my neck and start to choke the breath from me. I felt confusion, fear and helplessness in that moment. I let my master and Qui-Gon know that the Sith Master was Palpatine and started to close down my bonds. I did not want them to feel my death.”

“Lost you were, in the darkness.” Yoda whispered.

“In that moment, yes, I regret that I was absorbed within his darkness. I was ready to just give up. I was tired of fighting; it seemed the easy way out.”

“Yes, yes, your past actions reflected in this.” Yoda’s ears lowered in sadness.

“But in the darkness, there was a light. It seemed like an eternity I was lost in that darkness but it was truly only moments. That light was my savior. That light was my bondmate. I felt him even with the bond closed and I knew that I could not give in without a fight. I was able to break his hold and ignite my saber. He threw everything he had at me, he taunted me. He even said that he saw a vision long ago that I would be his downfall, but that I was weak and pathetic and could not defeat him.” Obi-Wan was starting to talk faster, the story pouring out of his very soul. “The debris was overwhelming, the emotions even worse, but then I felt the presence of Master Dooku and Windu. They had entered the room and it was the distraction that I needed. I was able to strike and end his terrible reign before it started.”

The padawan took a step closer to the council and immediately kneeled before them. “I regret that my actions could cause dissent among the Senate and the Jedi. I take full responsibility for my actions and I will not see the Jedi pay for my decision. They are needed; we are needed in the galaxy. If the Sith can return after so many years, they can return again, we must always have a way to defeat the darkness.” Obi-Wan stopped speaking and waited their judgement.

Mundi looked down at the young man, knowing all he had endured over the years and still he sought to protect the council, his fellow Jedi. He was truly what they all strived to be, he was pure of light. “Padawan Kenobi, please rise.”

As the padawan stood, shoulders squared, he felt a tall presence behind him, the warmth of a body he hoped to one day know as intimately as his mind. “Padawan Jinn, please stand with your master, involved in this you are not. Defiance we sense in you, need this you do not.” Yoda spoke harshly, even though he hated to.

“Involved I am. Whatever judgement you have for him, you have for me. Where he goes, so too shall I. I will follow him in life and in death. We will finish our bonding and never again leave the other.” Mundi nodded to Yoda and the rest of the council.

“Very well, padawans, we have reached our judgement…” Just as the master was to continue the doors flew open to reveal a panting and out of breath initiate with a Queen in tow. “MASTERS!” Anakin ran up to the council members, trying to calm his breath to talk once more. “Masters…wait…new…evidence.” Anakin waved around a data disc, the Queen by his side, also trying to catch her breath.

“This is ridiculous, get on with it!” The CSF commander was seething at the interruption.

“Initiate Skywalker, what is the meaning of this?” The little boy could barely speak from the mad dash to the chambers. “Masters, if you would allow a Queen…a moment’s indulgence?” Anakin looked at the young lady and was grateful to have her on their side.

“As a ruling member of the Republic, allowed to speak you are.” Yoda nodded and gave the floor over to her.

“I have known Senator Palpatine for a long while, and he has always made me feel, off. The palace once had a grand security system that recorded most rooms within it. A few years ago, just before I was sworn in as Queen, that system was taken out at the behest of Senator Palpatine. He stated that the system didn’t allow for privacy to the Queen and her court within their home. No one thought this odd, no one questioned him. After about six months as Queen, Captain Panaka had reports of odd comings and goings within the palace and suggested that the system be reactivated, but not advertised. I did not even realize this until today. As I found out, I realized that we had Padawan Kenobi’s encounter with Chancellor Palpatine completely on disc. Anakin and I watched and transferred the contents to this disc, it corroborates Obi-Wan’s story. He is a hero of the republic, not an assassin!” Padme stopped her speech, still trying to catch her breath.

“This recording is awful convenient! You will do nothing to keep your kind protected. I have seen nothing here to convince me. Padawan Kenobi is under arrest for the murder of our respected Chancellor and he will be sentenced to death!” The commander walked towards the Padawan and was immediately stopped by two snarling Masters.

“You will NOT touch my Padawan.” Dooku was ready to do anything to protect his family. Anakin stood silently beside Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, the Queen next to him, holding his hand. They truly were an odd but loving family.

“Enough of this, We will view the recording. This council sees no reason or sense no lies from Padawan Kenobi, he acted as a Jedi and will be under the protection of the Jedi from here on out.”

The commander drew his blaster and called for the rest of his company to enter the room. “We will take him by force if need be…”

Yoda raised his hand and immediately stripped each officer of their blasters and threw them against the nearby wall. “A war you will not start with the Jedi. The darkness this is, and tainted by the Chancellor you are.”

Just as the situation was getting out of hand, a voice called from the doorway. “We will not start a war with the Jedi. The Jedi are the protectors of the Republic and I am very sorry for the commander’s actions.” They all turned to look at the tall tan man, flanked by his own security detail. “Senator Organa?” Mundi and Queen Amidala both spoke at the same time.

“Newly elected Chancellor Organa. The Queen was kind enough to transmit the recording of Palpatine and Kenobi to the Senate and we have viewed it. We were already on our way, but it would seem that I am just in time to advert a tragic response.” The council relaxed its guard and released the CSF agents from their grip.

“Thank you. I would like to take this moment to announce that there will be no charges against Padawan Kenobi. He acted on the best interests of the Republic and had no choice. It was self-defense, pure and simple. Commander, you will relinquish your badge to my security and report to your superiors for further instructions.”

“But..I was just…following the law!”

“No, you were following your own sense of justice, your own wish for revenge, which is enough. Leave the Jedi to their peace, NOW.” Bail turned and smiled at both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. “I’ve known you both for a good while because of your masters. I know the conviction of your morals because of the men who taught you. Go with peace, young ones.” Bail nodded to the council and the Queen and left the room as quietly as he entered.

Dooku took a deep breath, feeling like perhaps things would work out for the first time in forever. “Initiate Skywalker, Queen Amidala, more matters we have to discuss with Master’s Dooku and Windu. Excused we would ask you to be.” Yoda offered them a small smile of reassurance.

“Yes, Masters. We are sorry that we had to barge in.” They both left at that, hand in hand.

“Close those two will be, close they were meant to be.” Yoda cackled slightly. “Now that we have that out of the way, more matters to attend we have. Padawan Jinn, stand before this council, please.” Obi-Wan took two steps back, settling beside the two other masters.

I love you, no matter what. Obi-Wan sent to his bondmate. Qui-Gon felt his heart melt at the words and emotions that overwhelmed their connection.

“Padawan Jinn, you have come a long way in the ten years with the Jedi. You came to us as an angry, untrained young man and fought to be a Jedi. You faced trials at the age of eleven that would have made many grown men crumble. You have done everything this council has asked of you and proven your worth to yourself and us. Master Windu, please approach your padawan.” Mundi gestured to the master. “This council believes this mission to Naboo to be sufficient for his trials. We believe him ready in mind, body and soul to become a Jedi Knight of our order. Do you agree that he is ready to take his place as your equal?”

Mace swallowed, his emotions out of control. He was a master; he could handle the knighting of his padawan without crying. “He was always my equal, but it is time for all to acknowledge that right. You are ready to be a knight, my padawan.” Mace almost sobbed, knowing this was the last time he would say those words as his master.

“Kneel before us, Padawan Jinn.” Qui-Gon kneeled in front of his master as Mundi continued to speak. He couldn’t believe this was happening. “You kneel before us as a Padawan, a learner of the order. It was our duty to guide you in both body and mind, within the confines of the light.” Mace kneeled before his padawan taking the long brown braid in his palm. “The padawan braid is a symbol of the three, Padawan, Master and the force. They are forever entwined as they walk the same path. The severing of the braid means no longer do you walk the same path, each now separate to walk the path of the Jedi.” Mace grasped his lightsaber setting it to its lower setting and tightening the braid around his palm. Looking into the young man’s eyes, bright with tears, he whispered. “We may walk a separate path, but I will always love you.” As the last word was said, he brought the saber to bear on the braid and it was no longer a part of his body. Mace coveted the braid for a moment, pressing his lips gently to it as he then gave it over to Qui-Gon.

“No master, please keep it. It was always meant to be yours.” Qui-Gon wrapped his hands around his master’s, letting him clench the braid in his palm.

“Rise you will, Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn, may the force always be with you.” Yoda proclaimed the knight before all present. The somberness of the room turned immediately to joy as all celebrated the moment. Master Dooku hugging both his old padawan and the new knight, it was a joyous occasion compared to the moment before. The force around them rang with the rightness of this instant. The council gave a bit of latitude as they all offered their congratulations to the new Knight.

After a few moments, Mundi stepped aside and gave the floor to Master Yoda. “Unfinished business we have. Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, before us you will kneel.”

Obi-Wan let go of his mate’s hand and took his place before the council. It was time for his full judgement. He could only hope to stay on the path of the Jedi with his Master and mate, but would accept any outcome. “Such solemn thoughts for one so young. The council bares much responsibility for your thoughts over the years. They questioned when they should have supported. They meddled when they should have left it alone. Honest we are, blown it this council has when it came to Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Obi-Wan’s eyes flew up to meet the wizened master. “Master…”

“Quiet you will be.” Yoda chastised the young one. “Years I watched over you, even since a babe in the creche you were. Visions of the future I had, visions that showed just what you meant to the order. Ruled my actions did these visions and led to your misery they have. Knew of your issues with young Chun we did and yet let it go we had. Knew of the path you were to take I did and thought it would make you stronger to do what you must. For these grievances I do apologize.”

 Yoda hobbled down to the padawan and kneeled before him, his forehead pressed lightly to the cold marble floor. “Forgive an old master I ask, though deserve it I do not.” Obi-Wan was beside himself at the spectacle and wanted to immediately purge the older master of his guilt. He stopped for a moment however, and thought deeply on his words and emotions. This was important to Yoda and he would not forgive him flippantly.

“Master Yoda, did you mean to harm me?”

“Harm I meant not.”

“Purposely sought to make Bruck hate me?”

“No, never would I do such a thing.”

“Even if it hurt, did you mean to make me a stronger Jedi to deal with the future I might encounter?”

“Yes…Yes… It hurt to do, but yes.”

“If forgiveness is what you need, than you have it, but know that in my eyes there is nothing to forgive. Even with the hurts of the past, we have saved the galaxy; I have a mate that will never leave me and a master that loves me as if I were his son. I would not trade the present for a different past, my master.”

“Wise Knight you are…”

“Master?” Obi-Wan’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Master and apprentice Sith defeated you did. Let the darkness taint you, you did not. There is no other in the order that deserves Knight more than you.” Yoda rose from his knees and looked deeply into the green-blue eyes before him. “Master Dooku, my former Padawan, ready for knighthood is my grand padawan?”

“I will miss him by my side, but no more can I teach him, ready he is.” Dooku kneeled in front of his padawan, clutching his reddish blonde braid in his fingers just as Mace had done minutes before. “Oh my padawan, my son, I will miss you by my side, but it is time you walked your own path, beside Qui-Gon.”

Just as the words were expressed he severed the braid and let it fall to the ground. “I don’t need a braid to remember you; I have the light that is within me because of you. I will always cherish that, my Obi-Wan.”

“Rise Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and take your place within our ranks.” Mundi smiled at both young Knights as each council member offered their thanks and congratulations. They were all talking amongst themselves as Qui-Gon came behind Obi-Wan and wrapped him in a tight embrace. “I love you, my Knight, forever in this place and in the force.” The endearment was whispered lightly in his ear.

Yoda cleared his throat to get the attention of them all. “Much more there is to discuss, but another time that can be. Knight Jinn, you still require rest after your injuries, sure I am that Knight Kenobi can assist. Dismissed you are, talk again soon we will.”

As the council left the room, only the four remained. Jard and Mace embraced, still reeling at the sudden knighthood of their padawans. “I’m afraid to blink; it all seems to be happening so fast.” Mace spoke softly as the older man stroked his back soothingly.

“They will always be part of us, just as you were always part of me when you were knighted.”

Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon approached the masters, hand in hand. “Master…”

“Try again, Obi-Wan.” Jard chuckled at the young one.

“You will always be my master, Jard.” Dooku closed his eyes at the sound of his name upon Obi-Wan’s lips. It just felt right.

“Yes, My Obi-Wan?”

“If you have no further use for us, I think it is time for Qui-Gon to rest, he’s making a good show of it, but he’s about to pass out on his feet.”

“I am not!” Just as he spoke, he swayed on his feet. “Ok, maybe just a bit…” The taller man chuckled and held onto his mate for support.

“Rest well, our knights. We will visit in the morning.” Mace and Jard watched as the two left together, their light brighter together than it ever was apart. “Shall we return to our quarters, m’love?” Dooku grasped the dark skinned hand in his. “I don’t know, are you going to ravish me this time, or just sleep?”

“Impudent brat…”

“An impudent brat that wants to be ravished by his OLD man…”

“I will show you old!” Jard pushed the tall man from the room, both rushing to the room to celebrate the raising of two knights and the love they bore for each other.

Chapter Text

As the two new knights left the temporary council room they were immediately met by two bundles of energy. A blond streak ran by them, chasing after a very giggly and happy Padme. The two were so comfortable in the other’s company that very soon it would turn into a somber goodbye. They could not all stay on Naboo forever. Looking to Obi-Wan, Qui-gon let go of his support and slowly went to one knee on the marble flooring. “Padawan?”

Anakin’s head immediately turned toward the low but commanding voice that he had already grown to love. “Master?” Qui-Gon just nodded gently and offered a warm smile, letting all the warmth and protection flow over their fledgling bond. “They knighted you!” Then the little boy looked behind his soon to be master and eyed Obi-Wan. “They knighted you both, does that mean…”

The doubtful look replaced the smile that had only been there minutes before. This was still a small boy that had known nothing but the life of a slave. He was adapting quickly to his surroundings but it would take a lifetime to overcome the feeling of inadequacy that was instilled in him as a toddler. Qui-gon opened his arms to the child and immediately felt the warmth as the boy snuggled up into his chest and listened to the thumping of the heart beneath. “You still need time in the creche, my own. That however does not change the fact that when the time comes you will be my padawan. I know that the time between now and then may feel like an eternity, but you need time to learn the basics and I need time to learn to be on my own after having my own master at my side for years. I must be able to stand on my own two feet to ensure that one day you can do the same.”

Anakin just held on tighter to the knight and nodded his head up and down, still mesmerized with the beating of the heart that he was quickly starting to entwine with his own. As the two held on tight to each other, Padme and Obi-Wan looked on, not wanting to disturb the moment, but like all things this too had to end. Ben put his hand on Qui-Gon’s shoulder and smiled at the two. “If I may interrupt?”

“I’m sorry Padawan. I mean Knight Kenobi, I’m sure you both have better things to do.”

“Oh Ani.” The new knight kneeled next to them both and guided the boy’s hand and attention towards him. “Ani, I must ask something very important of you.” The boy straightened up and gave his full attention to the smaller knight at his side. “I…We…”

How do you explain us to a nine year old.

You are on your own in this one. I shall enjoy watching you squirm.

Brat.

Your Brat.

The boy looked on, knowing that something else was going on between the two. “I’m sorry Ani, sometimes we can get lost with the other. I guess that is what I want to speak to you about. Qui-Gon and I will be life-bonded soon, do you know what this means?”

The little boy blushed, he was only nine but growing up as a slave he knew exactly what would happen between the two men. “You love each other and will sleep together.”

Padme coughed behind them, trying to stifle her own giggle. “While that is correct, there is just a bit more to it. My soul with join with Qui-Gon’s, we will never truly be parted again, not even in death.”

The boy suddenly tensed and looked back at Qui-Gon. “It’s ok padawan; I am going nowhere anytime soon.”

Obi-Wan nodded to Anakin, “We will both make sure that he keeps to that statement.” This lightened the mood once more, but they were not finished. Obi-Wan took a deep breath and continued on. “I guess what I am trying to say is that once we are completely bonded Qui-Gon and I become a package deal. There will be no way for us to keep our bond completely from the one you’ve already formed with your soon to be Master. There will be times when I will hear or feel what you send to him and I do not want you to feel that his love for me will interfere with your training or his feelings for you.”

The boy just looked at the knight, a bit confused on where this was going. “Oh, Ben, we know you would never interfere with our bond, but you are right, there will be times when there is no shielding that can separate us.” Qui-Gon spoke softly, holding Ani’s hand within his own.

Obi-Wan took the young boy’s other small hand in his and flipped it gently palm up and gently pressed his own to it. “Initiate Anakin Skywalker, what I’m asking, if very badly, would you honor this new Knight and be my padawan, to teach you just as Knight Jinn has sworn? It is not a common thing, but would you accept two masters that can’t picture a life without you in it?”

Qui-Gon turned his head away for a moment, feeling his own emotions welling out of control. He felt the force swirl and suddenly felt less darkness in the future, it was as if the Force itself was guiding his mate to secure a better future.

As the moments ticked by, Anakin was thinking over everything. He knew this was important and didn’t want them both to think he rushed to a decision. He knew he was different, but would two masters work, would they fight over his training if they didn’t agree, then he smiled. No, they would discuss any differences in private and come to the best decision for their padawan. This would not be a problem. The young boy looked up shyly at Obi-Wan and just smiled. “We would have our own family; I would be honored to have you both as my Masters.”

Ben let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding and scooped up the young boy into his arms, hugging him tightly. “We absolutely have our own family, be sure I’m there to see you call Master Mace and Dooku grandpa.”

They all chuckled and Qui-Gon wrapped his own arms around the other two. “As long as you don’t call me mother, we’re ok…” The low growl turned into outright laughter as they pulled the young queen into their group hug.

“I do hope you will all visit Naboo as time allows, I will miss you all.” Padme let go of the hug and looked sadly at the floor below her.

“We promise you will not lose contact with us or Anakin. He has a long path before him but there is no reason you both cannot write and send com messages and we always have vacations.” Obi-Wan saw the smile appear on the beautiful face of the young queen once more.

“I would like that. I promise I will write and visit as much as I can, Ani.” Anakin went to her side and shyly clasped her hand in his. “Let’s go play. I can feel how exhausted my masters are now.”

“Already making me feel like I’m ancient, go you impudent brat!” Qui-Gon chuckled and rose to his feet once more, at the side of his mate, watching the two children run after the other.

“That went better than I thought it would. You know you could have helped?” The taller man reached down and cupped the face that would always smile just for him.

“I could have helped but this was something that you both needed to deal with, without me.”

“I know. I was scared he would say no…But he trusts and loves so openly. It’s amazing that a former slave can open his heart so easily.”

“He had the loving heart of his mother to guide him for nine years. A mother’s love…” Qui-Gon choked at the words, dredging up the emotions of his own mother.

“OH, Qui…I know how much you miss her, but she’s still with you. She’s still with us both. It was her love that brought us together.”

“And I will always love her for the time we had, and the meddling she did in my life to make sure I was never alone. However, I think it’s made me see that in order to keep the darkness at bay in Anakin’s life we need to see to his own mother. He will always worry for her, a slave on a hard planet.”

Obi-Wan felt the plan start to form in his mate’s mind. “You wish to return to Tatooine and free Shmi?”

“I don’t see any other way to secure his future. If anything was to happen to Shmi and we could have offered some kind of protection, Anakin would be lost to us.”

“You know the council is not going to agree to this.”

“Fuck the council.”

“Ok Master Windu. As much as I might agree with the sentiment, there are times when you can win more with diplomacy than brute force. We can ask for time before we return to Coruscant and make a detour to Tatooine. Jard will give us the credits needed from his own personal accounts to make sure we can purchase and then free his mother, all we have to do is ask.”

“Knight Kenobi, are you suggesting we just don’t ask the council?”

“Sometimes it is better to kneel and ask for forgiveness than ask permission.”

“Why you sneaky…”

“We will secure Shmi’s future; perhaps we can even find her a position within the temple that will allow the two to still have time together.”

“You are such a wise man and I love you all the more for your gentle heart.”

The two embraced tightly and felt the exhaustion roll off the other. “We should get you back to the med center to rest, my beloved.” Qui-Gon shook his head at that, “I will not return to that blasted place anytime soon. The queen gave us quarters here in the palace did she not?”

“Yes, but…I don’t want to set back your progress.”

“I promise that I am fine Obi-Love. If I feel that there is a need I will return, but I wish to rest in your arms away from prying eyes.” He slipped his hand in his love’s hand and entwined their fingers.

“Very well, but if I feel even a small issue, you will go back to the healers, no arguments!”

“Yes, Master Kenobi…”

“Brat!”

“Your brat.”

“Mine.” The word was spoken so softly that hardly anyone would be able to hear it. They were finally together, and soon not even death would keep them apart. 

Chapter Text

Sand. 

It was everywhere, and in everything. Tatooine was a planet that Obi-Wan was quite content to say he would never again miss, but they had a mission, a mission to free Shmi Skywalker and bring her safely to Coruscant. They had spoken to Master Dooku and described the situation and he quickly agreed to offer his credits for her freedom. 

He was at first, reluctant to see his Knight take up arms against the council and recognized there would repercussions for this mission, but he and Mace gave their blessing. They knew that this was the path the force suggested to the two young men and had even agreed to keep Anakin with them. They all agreed that not letting the boy in on the secret was the best course of action, just in case it didn’t work out the way they had planned. It would break the poor boy’s heart to be told he would see his mother again and then come home to Coruscant empty handed.

Now they had just landed on this god forsaken planet once more, memories started to sweep through Obi-Wan’s mind, the red and black tattoos of Bruck Chun forever etched into the sand, like the glass that formed from random lightning storms.

A hand leant carefully on his shoulder, trying not to startle him from his thoughts. “It is just a planet, my Ben. It is over, the Sith are gone and cannot destroy us any longer.” Qui-Gon bent over and pulled the body closer to him, the heat almost too much to bear, but hugging him close anyways.

“It was that same dangerous thinking that almost led to their emergence once again. We must be vigil and never think they are gone again. Have you ever thought about how many Jedi are within our ranks? Have you ever stopped to notice that our numbers are dwindling? How many more children are force sensitive and stuck on harsh planets such as this?” Ben was in Jedi Knight Mode and Qui-Gon knew better than try to placate the feelings that were radiating from the usually calm young man

“We must be vigil, but what exactly do you think we can do about any of this, Obi-Wan? The code and the council are the ones that will decide the future of the order. As much as we might want them to change many things, they are not going to listen to two new Knights who are still wet behind the ears.” Qui-Gon crossed his arms in front of him, knowing this was the truth, even if Obi-Wan didn’t want to hear it.

“It is our duty as the future of the order to make a stand if they won’t listen to reason. They may be the wisest among us but as we’ve seen they are not infallible. If they will not listen to our suggestions then we bring them to the general populace. We may not be a ruling democracy but the Jedi Council must listen to its “flock “. If they won’t listen and reform than it is our DUTY to act.” Obi-Wan started to pace, the heat of the day starting to take its toll as the sweat dripped down his face.

“Mutiny? Really Obi-Wan, are you suggesting that the Jedi corps overthrow our elders?”

Shaking his head, the passionate man before him stopped suddenly. “It is not mutiny to bring our ideas before the council and demand they be heard.”

“Oh Love, it’s not that I don’t agree with you, but..”

“But nothing, I’ve lived under the council’s rules for longer than you have. They meddled in my life, they sought to enforce rules only as they pleased and they almost cost me…my life.” They hadn’t spoken of his suicide attempt in weeks, but it was something that still weighed heavy between the two. Obi-Wan walked closer to his love, and pulled up the sleeves of his robes, showing pinkish white scars that marred such beautiful flesh. “Would you have another think this was the only way out?”

Qui-Gon started to open his mouth, only to shut it and reach out to trace the scars, his eyes full of unshed tears. “I would have no other feel that death is the only option. They have their problems, my Ben, but we do need the council.” The feeling of strong hands against his wrists, caressing the scars left there, were almost too much to handle, but Obi-Wan knew it was time to deal with this once and for all.

“I’m not saying we should get rid of the council, I’m just saying it is time we made them see, compelled them listen. There are too many rules, too many codes that in the past made sense but in these times are past their era. It is time for change, and I will bring that change if it…”

Qui-Gon swallowed, knowing the words that were coming. “Kills you?”

Pushing away from the warm body that he would always call home, Obi-Wan hummed softly under his breath. “That is what it will always come down to, isn’t it? Will there ever be trust between us Qui-Gon? Will you ever trust me with my own life and yours?”

“Oh Ben, I trust you with everything I am, but I’m a jealous man. I don’t want to lose you to death. I want to change this world of ours together, hand in hand and I worry that sometimes you rush in and consequences be damned.”

“Forever will this dominate our destiny?” The words were said in a hushed statement. “Qui-Gon if you love me, than you love all of me, even my faults. I can’t change who I am just because we will soon be bonded in everything. I will follow my own heart and the will of the force as I see it. Can you live with that, even if it puts me in danger?”

“Obi…Ben…I.”

Obi-Wan pulled away from the taller figure, his eyes filled with tears at the conflict before them. “I see. Let us go get Shmi.”

“Ben, please, don’t be that way.”

“Qui-Gon, I can fight against the force, I can fight with the council, and I can even fight with you, but I can no longer fight the conscience inside my soul. I must do what I feel is right.” Saying those words, the knight turned on his feet and started to stalk towards Mos Espa and couldn’t see the single tear that slid down his love’s cheek, the last thing Qui-Gon wanted was distance.

“Oh Ben, I don’t want you to change, I just don’t want to see you hurt.” Qui-Gon quickly followed Obi-Wan towards the bustling center of Mos Espa, in search of the Toydarian named Watto, hoping he would part with Shmi Skywalker so they could get off this awful dust ball of a planet.

As they reached the old junk shop, they could hear arguing inside. It was the soft voice of a female and the annoying accent of a Toydarian. “It would seem that we found them.” Qui-Gon entered the shop, trying not to trip over bits and pieces of junk in the walkway.

“Since your boy left, my business is not what it should be, eh! I have gotten an offer to sell you back to the Hutts and I considering it, I am.” The Jedi entered quietly, seeing the woman’s eyes flare in concern at their arrival.

“Ani?!” She ran towards the taller Jedi and looked around for the small boy. “Where is my Ani, is he ok?”

Qui-Gon sent soothing thoughts to the frantic woman. “He’s fine Shmi, he’s with our masters and he was accepted into Jedi training. We are here on, other business.” Qui-Gon turned toward Watto and took a deep breath. The last thing he wanted to do was deal with this, calling him a person was too kind. He didn’t deserve to profit from owning slaves, much less owning his soon to be Padawan and his mother. The force was fairly vibrating with his anger and he felt a small tug at his outer shields.

Calm, Love. We need him to go along with our plan and pissing him off isn’t likely to help.

I know, I just, wish we could put an end to slavery, but out here in the outer rim it seems impossible.

Qui-Gon felt the calming presence of Obi-Wan inside his mind and knew that if they were to succeed he would need to play up to the Toydarians ego. “Watto, we meet again!” Qui-Gon held out his arms and bowed.

“You! You cost me my business. Out! Out!”

“Please Watto, listen to our plea. We know we took much from you when we took young Ani and I heard you say that you were considering selling Shmi to the Hutts. Would you consider a counter offer?”

The Toydarian turned his blue body, wanting these goody goodies out of his shop forever. “Why should I listen to the likes of you, eh?”

“Because we can double the Hutts offer for Ms. Skywalker.” Obi interceded before they found themselves heading back to Coruscant empty handed.

“Double? Double?” His eyes seemed to get bigger and the smile on his face spread.

“Deal!” Shmi looked on the scene with shock upon her face; she was going to be owned by the Jedi now?”

Obi-Wan couldn’t help but catch her broadcasted thoughts and whispered into her ear. “Never again will you be owned by anyone but your own conscience my lady. We are returning to Coruscant, you deserve the same fresh start that we gave Anakin and hopefully a place at his side while he trains to be a Jedi.”

The beautiful smile that graced her lips would rival his own when Qui-Gon first professed his love. It was the right thing to do and the force fairly radiated its approval. The council be damned, they would see that this woman had a place in Anakin’s life for as long as there were breaths in their body.

Watto quickly counted his credits, mumbling about purchasing new slaves that could help with repairs once more, perhaps even better than the young brat. As they took up the paperwork and deactivated Shmi’s tracer chip, they walked out into the street taking a deep breath of air.

“I can’t believe that you came back for me, much less released me. How do I ever thank you?”

Qui-Gon quickly reached out for the middle-aged woman and clasped her hands in his. “You never have to thank us. We did the right thing and this will make a small boy happy. Anakin has grown to mean more to us than just another Jedi brother, he’s going to be our Padawan, we’ve already bonded.”

Shmi just chuckled and laughed, pulling the two Jedi into her loving arms. “Oh, my boys! It’s hard to resist that little boy, isn’t it?” She hugged them tightly to her body, the tears flowing as she finally grasped that she was free. Free to love, and to choose her own future.

It was when her body tensed against them that Qui-Gon pulled away and looked into sad eyes. “My lady?”

“I. I’ve never dared to dream of being free. Where will I go, what will I do?” Her hands shivered, even in the dry hot Tatooine air.

“You can go anywhere and can do anything, but we have a suggestion.” Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows, knowing that Qui-Gon’s plans often led to trouble. “Come back to Coruscant with us. We can find you a place within the temple, I’m sure. Perhaps with the custodial staff…”

Obi-Wan quickly interjected, “No Qui-Gon, the creche. She would be perfect with the children.” Qui-Gon thought it over for just a moment and quickly agreed with his lover. “Obi-Wan is right. Our Jedi children often lack for a mother and father and look to our creche masters for that role. There is no reason you must be a Jedi to give that love and support. I know this is all overwhelming, but the choice is yours. What would you like to do with the rest of your life Shmi Skywalker?”

They waited patiently while the woman before them thought about her options. This was the only planet she had ever known, the only place that she had called home. If she was honest with herself, the thought of leaving for a new start at her age, petrified her. However, this would allow her to be part of Ani’s life. She would be able to watch her loving son grow into the beautiful man he was destined to become. Could she put aside her fears, of course she could! She turned quickly on the two Jedi who smiled knowingly. “I would like to come back to your temple and find a place with the Jedi. Even if I can’t raise him myself I would love to watch him grow.”

“Perhaps you won’t be raising him in the sense of everyday responsibilities that will go to his masters, but he will always be your son, Shmi. You will ALWAYS have a place in his heart and in our family if that is what you desire.” Obi-Wan pulled the trembling woman into his arms as all the emotions finally released and she started to cry in his arms. The arms that tightened around him were suddenly larger and more masculine as he realized his mate had joined them, tugging them both to his loving chest. “Qui? People are staring. Perhaps we should take this elsewhere?” They all let go and laughed together.

“Let us get your things and be on our way, I tire of this heat.” Obi-Wan looked at the still too pale face that spoke. Qui-Gon had been released from the healers on Naboo but he still was not fully healed. They were supposed to report back to the Temple healers when they returned home for a full rehabilitation schedule. Straightening his body, Qui-Gon could feel Ben’s regard and smiled at him knowingly. They still had so many things to work out between them, but the love he saw in those eyes was something that no one could question or mistake. “I’m fine Ben, just tired.”

Shmi looked on the two younger men and then back at Qui-Gon, realizing that the taller of the two was not in good health. “Qui-Gon?”

“I’m fine. You don’t need to fuss. I’m just recovering from…an injury.”

Obi-Wan shook his head and mumbled under his breath. “Stubborn…fool…just an injury.” Shmi could feel the tension between the two suddenly and knew she was missing something important.

“If I’m truly part of your family now, then I will tolerate no secrets between us. What are you not telling me?”

Thoroughly admonished Qui-Gon spoke quietly. “I was injured on Naboo, and almost died. I’m better now, but tire easily. We technically weren’t supposed to make this detour but we felt we had to, for Ani.”

“Foolish boy, do all Jedi try to play the martyr? Let’s get my things and get on our way so you can get the rest you need. I can’t have the man meant to train my son on death’s door before he even starts. Can I?”

Obi-Wan laughed into his hand, trying desperately to hide the snicker he knew was coming. Shmi would be good for their little family and even better for the children of the creche. She would champion their cause, fight their nightmares and take care of them when they couldn’t take care of themselves. She would be a healthy attachment for all that needed such a thing after being pulled from their own families. Once again, Obi-Wan was drawn into the thought that not all attachments were inherently bad, they could good, they could be healthy and the council needed to change its views as such.

The stars streaked by as they all settled back into the transport bound once more for the Jedi Temple. They would certainly face sanctions for the retrieval of Shmi Skywalker but they would take the punishment because the ends justified the means. Obi-Wan saw that the woman was settled into quarters down the hall from theirs. She only remembered being in space once, and her body was just like her sons, used to the heat of the twin suns over Tatooine. It would be a long trip for her body, but her mind couldn’t seem to get there fast enough, to take her little boy into her arms once again. It was a bittersweet future that she never thought to see, if she was honest with herself, she would constantly wake from nightmares that only showed her son showing up just as she was dying. It was a horrible nightmare that repeated itself constantly since he had left with the Jedi Knights.

“Will you be ok, Lady Skywalker?” Obi broke her concentration and she offered a warm smile.

“Please call me Shmi, there is no need for titles between family.”

“Of course, Shmi. I’m so glad you are off of that uncivilized planet.”

“Me too, my fair Obi-Wan. Is Qui-gon going to be ok?”

“If he doesn’t keep pushing himself then yes, he will be fine. I sent him to our quarters to rest and the pilot has set our course. We should return to Coruscant in a matter of days.”

“You should return to Qui-Gon and make sure he stays resting. He seems to be the type that would drive himself to exhaustion if there were something else to tend to.”

This made Obi-Wan chuckle. “You have NO idea. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call on us.” Obi-Wan took a deep breath, not quite ready to face his mate. The argument on the planet was still weighing on his mind, that and the fact that they had little energy or time to devote to their lifebond. He wasn’t afraid, he wasn’t putting it off, he wasn’t….Yes he was. How could there still be fear when he knew neither of them ever wanted to be alone or live without the other. “What was there to fear in love?” He whispered quietly before the door that held his world inside.

Do you plan on coming in, or will you pace outside of the door for a few hours?

Caught.

As the door slid open, he saw his love light up. The smile on the face of the man he treasured drove all fear aside. He was lying atop the blankets, his body covered in only a small under tunic and sleep pants. The firm muscles underneath were quite visible to the man standing at the door. “If I’m honest, I probably would have stood there awhile if you hadn’t called me out. How are you feeling?”

Qui-Gon’s blue eyes bore into his own. “Incomplete.” Tapping the bed beside him, he reached out for his Ben. “Come to bed with me?”

Obi-Wan slipped the robe from his shoulders and let it fall to the cold steel floor, not caring at the moment for cleanliness. As he approached the bed, his outer tunics, belt and boots fell into a similar state.

“You are so beautiful to me.” Qui-gon spoke softly. “Not only in body, but in spirit. I could never picture my life without you in it.” At the last word, Ben was on the bed, pressing his lips firming to the man below him, melting into the touch and taste of something so sensual. Qui-Gon slipped his tongue between those lips, tasting the very essence of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a taste that he would always crave and desire. The moans they both pulled from each other said everything their bodies needed to say. It was time. It was time to let go of the past and the fears and live in this moment together.

Qui-Gon pulled his mate atop his body, pressing their bodies closer together as they continued to explore each other’s lips. The fabric between the two only enhanced the sensitivity of their position as they rubbed their hardening erections against each other for friction. “Obi-love, I know we should talk…”

“No more talking, no more fear. Want you…” Suiting his words to actions, Ben let his fingers slowly roam over the muscular chest and down the six pack abs to push between them, taking his lover’s thick cock in hand, feeling the silken flesh between his fingers as he thrust inside his sleep pants.

Qui-Gon inhaled at the contact, breaking the kiss and leaning his head back against the pillow in pleasure. “Love you, so much.” The whispered endearment only invited his Ben to continue the sweet torture. Obi-Wan started to run his kisses gently over Qui-Gon’s strong chin and down further to his chest, opening up the small tunic, exposing the skin, and his lips latching gently to a rosy pink nipple. The moist mouth suckling at the nub forced Qui-Gon’s body to writhe beneath him, the moans no longer soft but becoming gasps of pleasure as he pushed himself further into his lover’s calloused hand.

“Come for me, love.” Ben cried with him. Qui-Gon knew he wouldn’t last much longer, their feelings for each other had been so strong and they had waited so long to touch like this.

Feeling his body convulse under the wonderful ministrations, Qui-Gon’s body arched off the bed as he whimpered, “Ben…” Obi-Wan watched his love’s face as his orgasm flew through him. The body below him trembled and twitched in release as he withdrew his hand, bringing his cum covered hand to his lips and tasting the bitter essence of his bondmate. “This is a taste I could absolutely become addicted to.” Qui-Gon watched as Obi-Wan licked his hand clean, groaning at the erotic display as his lover leaned down and once more took his mouth, tasting himself on the tongue conquering his mouth.

The stunning smile that graced his Ben’s lips was something he would always remember, as they pulled apart and stared into each other’s eyes. “That was amazing, but you didn’t…”

Ben pulled Qui-Gon’s hand down, pressing it tightly to his groin to feel the soft wetness under the fabric. “OH, trust me, hearing you moan and writhe underneath me was quite enough.” They both laughed, no longer feeling the tension in the room. They were ready, it was time. They continued to kiss gently and pet each other, letting the moment take care of itself for once.

They quickly recovered from their endeavors, and felt the kisses become urgent once more, their hands divesting the other of all clothing, not wanting to feel anything between them but the silkiness of their skin. Qui-Gon rolled Obi-Wan over, pressing his body tightly against its mate. “I want you so much, but neither of us has done this before.”

Ben could feel the concern in both words and bond from Qui-Gon as his body trembled on top of him. “I want you inside me, in body as in mind. I’m nervous about the act, but not about whom I’m sharing it with. Make love to me, Qui. Make us one.” Closing his eyes to the soft words, Qui-Gon pushed off the bed and walked to his travel bag, withdrawing a small vial of scented oil. “Always prepared.” Obi-Wan breathed.

Obi-Wan watched his lover walk away from him, enjoying the view. There were scars that shown over his backside and down his legs, but that only made him more desirable. Those scars showed his devotion to the order, the force and his humanity. They proved that he would always place himself in harm’s way to protect and serve those that could not this was something that attracted him all the more. The bed dipped once again, pulling Obi-Wan out of his thoughts.

“Are you sure about this Ben, I could…”

His words were interrupted by a deep kiss. “This is what I want, and I think you do as well.” Ben’s hand extended down and grasped the hardened member, feeling its thickness and clenching his body in expectation.

“My Obi-Wan, I do want you, but I have no desire to see you in pain.” Taking the vial in his hands, he dribbled a bit of the sweet smelling oil into the navel of his lover, letting it pool there. Returning the oil to the side table of their bed, Qui-Gon brought his fingers to Ben’s stomach, covering those fingers in the slick oil, letting them trail from his stomach to groin, playing lightly over his cock and continuing further down.

They both gazed into each other’s eyes as his finger slipped between his cheeks and entered him for the first time. They both opened their bond further, letting the other feel everything. Qui-Gon monitored the bond for pain and resistance, knowing this wasn’t a race, he would take as much time as needed to ensure Ben’s pleasure. “Qui-Gon, please.” Ben’s voice was wavering as the need of completion ran through their bond. Qui-Gon felt as Ben pressed his body against his finger, adding a second which produced a loud gasp and then silence. He withdrew his fingers quickly, looking down at Ben with concern.

“Why?”

“I told you, I won’t hurt you!” Unshed tears graced his lover’s eyes.

“Such a gentle giant you are. There is no way to avoid some discomfort our first time. It will be that way no matter who is penetrated. Please don’t use this as an excuse.” Qui-Gon gasped as his fingers were once again guided to the warm tightness of his mate’s. He felt the tightness around his fingers, but suddenly felt the resistance lessen, his lover starting to move his body over them.

“Mmm, Qui, just a little…deeper.” Suiting the words to action, Qui-Gon pushed his two fingers deeper, feeling a small knot just under his fingertips. “YES!” Qui-Gon couldn’t help but chuckle at the shout, hoping beyond hope that Shmi Skywalker wouldn’t hear them and know what they were doing. It would be hard to look her in the eye at first meal.  

“Who knew those sexual education classes that Master Piell taught would come in handy.”

“Not who I want to think about right now, my love.” Ben chuckled and pushed his body harder upon those lovely fingers. “More..please.” Qui-Gon would never deny this man much and brought the fingers from the opening, coating a third finger in more oil. “Are you sure?”

“Now!” That demanding padawan was back, pushing the third figure inside him, they both gasped as they felt the pain/pleasure swarm their bond. “You, please. Need you.” Qui-Gon withdrew his fingers and coated his cock with the remaining oil. He felt the swollen head press at the small opening, still nervous about the act and the pain it would bring. Sensing the doubt Obi-Wan surged up and threw his lover once more to the bed, straddling his legs.

“No more worry, doubt and fear. I will have what is mine.”

“Take what you need, my love. Make us one.” From this position all the worry was taken from him. Obi-Wan could manage the pain at his own pace. As his body lowered on the firm member, inch after inch of Qui-Gon’s cock disappeared inside the tight warmth. “Ben. So tight, so full.” The perspiration covered Obi-Wan’s body as he fought the discomfort, suddenly feeling it change to pleasure. They stood still for a few moments, savoring the feeling of their first time. Obi-Wan’s body rested completely against Qui-Gon, his body becoming accustomed to the full feeling.

“Move, love, please?” Ben gazed into Qui-Gon’s eyes, seeing the love there and started to rise up and thrust down. Their bodies clenched the other, mouths meeting in passionate kisses as they pledged their love in body, mind and soul.

The bond between them grew and expanded with each thrust, they could feel everything. They could feel the emotions of the other and feel the past as clearly as if it were their own. As their bodies peaked and they both screamed out in release, they felt their souls combine.

This was the moment they both feared and when the intensity of it all was over, they couldn’t remember what they feared. They were together, in this life and the next. They would no longer fear the future because even in death they would go together. It was as the forced willed it and they were finally complete. Obi-Wan collapsed on Qui-Gon’s chest, the large arms wrapping around his body as they closed their eyes in exhaustion. Obi-Wan had no intention of moving, if he was lucky, they could stay this way forever. “I love you.” The words spoken softly into his ear were the last thing Obi-Wan heard before sleep took them both.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan stretched into the warmth that was settled next to him in the cozy sleep couch. The contentment that swept through him was hard to describe, but it felt like home. It was a residence that would always be there for him, no matter the circumstances. He would never again feel isolated and utterly alone in the galaxy.

He felt the breathing against his neck, their legs entangled together after a long night of thorough loving. “Never alone.” The sleepy voice almost startled Obi-Wan as he smiled widely. “You are right my love, never alone again.” Qui-Gon hummed his assent and started to press light kisses along Obi-Wan’s neck.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. I don’t know how to shield from you anymore.”

“M’not sorry. We’ve shielded enough of our emotions over the years. It’s nice to feel so open and free for a change.” Ben laughed as he felt his lover; yes he could call him that now, pressed their bodies together, enjoying the pleasurable friction. “I can’t seem to get enough of you now. I hope it won’t always be this way, or missions could get… difficult.” Qui pressed his Ben against the bed and straddled his body, looking down into the loving and ever changing grey eyes of his life-mate.

“I’m sure things will settle out, the bond is just like a newborn, we have to train, nurture, and teach it.” Obi-Wan moaned against the body pushing down into him, leaning up for a morning kiss. “I love you, Qui.”

“Always and forever my Ben.” Just as Qui-Gon pressed their bodies together they both heard the chime of the door. “Well, it looks like we have to let the inside world in now.” Qui-Gon pressed his lips gently to his other half and pushed himself off the bed, covering his body with a nearby robe to answer the door. Looking back at the bed area, he made sure that his love was also covered before he greeted their visitor.

As the door slid open he saw the wide, shadowed eyes of Shmi Skywalker. “My lady, I hope you slept well.”

“Thank you, I tried but I find that I’m too excited to see Ani again, to rest much. I thought I would let you both know that I made first meal…” She turned a beautiful pink color as she noticed the rumbled bed and the well-loved look on the two younger men. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you…I…”

Qui-Gon took her hand lightly in his considerable paw and grinned. “My lady, please don’t apologize. I know we didn’t really tell you, but you have a right to know. Obi-Wan and I are bonded, it is something new to us, but because of this bond we will both train your son.” He observed as the woman fidgeted with her hands and looked down. He knew on some planets, especially outer rim planets that same sex couples were frowned upon and hoped that this wouldn’t be an issue.

“I…” She looked at Qui-Gon and then Obi-Wan and back to Qui-Gon. “It is not my place to comment, but I have just never thought it was so open in other parts of the galaxy. On Tatooine it happens but mostly it is kept in the shadows and thought of as a perversion. Not that I agree, I’m sorry! My mouth is running away from me.”

Qui-Gon smiled at the flustered woman before him, knowing she meant nothing hurtful with her words. “Oh Shmi. I know you will see new things on Coruscant and elsewhere if you choose to travel the galaxy, but trust me that love between anyone is never a perversion. I can only hope this will not color your thoughts of us, because Obi-Wan, Anakin and myself will be a happy family together and we so hope to include you in that family.”

They both waited, patiently for Shmi to wrap her thoughts around a new belief system that was nothing like the one on that dusty planet. “Do you remember my master, Master Dooku?” Obi approached the woman, trying not to surprise her.

“Of course, he was such a gentleman and I trusted him with Anakin, my precious boy.”

“Would you then question his morals, his guidance of your son?”

“Of course not!” She came to her full height.

“Would you doubt him if I told you that his love is and has always been for Master Windu?”

The woman held her hand to her mouth and gasped slightly at the information. “I can see I have much to learn and unlearn on Coruscant. My heart tells me this is still the right path, but please be gentle with me as I learn your ways?”

She bowed her head, almost apologetically but the shorter man approached her and wrapped her in a tight hug. “We all have a new path, but we can travel together, yes?”

“Yes…” She beamed again and pulled both of them towards the door. “Come, first meal is going to grow cold!” They both followed, pulling their robes closer to their bodies. They knew Shmi was a wonderful person and could see beyond the prejudices of the outer rim, but they were glad that they were able to approach it without Anakin looking on. It could have confused the child who only looked on them both with pride and love.

After first meal, they got dressed and went through some exercises to keep them from being restless. They only had one more day until they reached the temple and probably another run in with the council. The two Jedi Knights took their meals with Shmi and got to know the remarkable woman who dared raise a force sensitive child among the Hutts and scum of the galaxy. Nothing would ever harm her child, as long as blood continued to pulse through her body.

Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon opened up about their past and shared many stories with their previous masters. It was odd to relate those stories when they included such phrases as “Our former masters,” it would definitely take a while to get used.

Finally after what seemed like eternity, the stars no longer shot by the transport. They had entered Coruscant space, they were home. “We should let Shmi know that we are here, she would enjoy the view from the space port.”

Obi-Wan came closer to his mate and wrapped his arms around the well-built body. “She’s with Ric Olie in the co-pilot’s chair. I’m not sure, but she seems to be a bit smitten with him. She will have a nice view from that seat.”

“Are you trying to play matchmaker?”

“Me?” Obi-Wan laughed and chuckled into the back of his lover. “I have no idea what you are talking about, I would never…”

“Brat, I know you better.”

“Ok, well maybe, but it doesn’t hurt to introduce her to new people. Coruscant is so huge and we won’t always be there for her.”

Qui-Gon turned in his arms and lightly kissed the pouting lips. “Always looking out for others, it is one of the best things about you.”

“Well at least my hobby is only playing matchmaker. Unlike your need to adopt every stray and pathetic stray animal we come across.”

“I do not adopt every stray, just those that can’t take care of themselves!”

“Qui, I refuse to share my bed with every pathetic creature that looks at you with sad eyes.”

“I promise to keep them out of the bed, but I won’t stop saving them. It’s who I am.”

Obi-Wan pulled his mate’s head down and gently nipped at the tip of Qui-Gon’s nose with his soft lips. “I wouldn’t want you any other way; let’s just keep the bed clear, ok?”

“Yes, dear one.” They both chuckled and suddenly startled as their comlinks went off at the same time.

“Kenobi.”

“Jinn.”

“Yes, sir.” They responded almost at the same time as the other.

“Council?” Obi-Wan just nodded. “We’ve been knights for exactly four days and we’re already going to be censured. Do you think that’s a record?”

Qui-Gon drew his Ben into his arms and just shut his eyes for the moment. They did the right thing and they would have to stand by their convictions, however it didn’t make it any easier to step within the council circle and have twelve pairs of eyes once again judging them.


 

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan strode down the ramp of the transport, with Shmi walking behind them. This kept her basically hidden from those awaiting their arrival.

“Masters!” Anakin ran full speed ahead at the two knights, both grinning widely at their padawan.

“We were only gone for a few days, Ani.”

“Yeah, but I missed you. It’s just not the same without you in the temple. I felt…so lonely.” Qui-Gon swept the boy into his arms and felt the trembling body. It was going to be hard on the boy for a while, a new place, new people and a different culture.

“We brought you a surprise little one.” Obi-Wan smiled and moved from Anakin’s vision, allowing him to see the beaming image.

“Ani! My little Ani.” Shmi went down to one knee and immediately had an armful of little boy.

“Momma! I can’t believe it. You’re free. They freed you?” The tears that streamed from his cheeks were worth any censure that the council provided.

“Anakin, why don’t you show your mother to our quarters and get her settled in. We need to see the council.” Qui-Gon looked over to see the smiling faces of their former masters. Even though they were no longer their padawans, Mace and Jard had seen fit to be there for them.

“Masters.” They both spoke softly.

“You will not face the council alone. It was our help that allowed you to free that lovely woman. Once more into the fray?” Jard smiled at Mace and gently squeezed the dark-skinned hand.

“After you oh ancient master of mine!”

“Imp.”

“Old man.” Both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon laughed at the banter, knowing things would be ok. They were all finally together and the force willed it that way.


 

“Four days in to your knighthood and you are already rebelling against this council.” Master Piell had immediately started ranting without even a question to what had happened between Naboo and Coruscant. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon stood dead center of the chamber looking stoically at the twelve members before them.

“Say something for yourselves, you wish?” Yoda just nodded and hummed, his body language reflecting that he wasn’t as upset with their actions as the rest of the council.

“If I may, my old master.” Dooku stepped up to stand even with their two former padawan’s.

“Master Dooku and Master Windu, no longer padawans they are. Why here are you?”

“They may no longer be our responsibility, but they are still part of our line. I offered them the credits to pay for Shmi’s release. We all saw how attached Initiate Skywalker was to his mother. The future may always be in motion, but most paths I saw led to her death and to his fall. It is time the council understands that sometimes rules are made to be broken for the greater good.”

“You are speaking blasphemy, Master Dooku.” Master Mundi interrupted.

“You’ve become ridged in your views! I beg you to stop sitting in your tower and come down to earth with the rest of the Jedi.” Jard approached his old master, who sat in a chair before them. “I am proud to be Jedi and I do not enjoy arguing with the council, no matter what you may think. Please listen to us.”

Obi-Wan looked at Qui-Gon and then to the other two masters, and approached his former master. “Master Dooku, I understand your need to protect us, but please, this is something we must do on our own.” Jard’s face faltered for a moment, and looked like he would argue. The older man then looked back at Mace and saw the agreement in his eyes. This was the new generations fight, they could only stand silently and offer support. “Very well my young Knight.” Dooku nodded to Obi-Wan and backed off to stand silently with Master Windu.

“I know that we’ve stood before you quite a bit in the last few tens. We have had our differences and for better or naught, we need each other.” Obi-Wan turned to his life-mate and smiled reassuringly. “First of all, I would like to declare our bond before this council. Qui-Gon Jinn and I will never part again, in this life or the next.”

Master Yoda’s ears rose at this news and he hummed in approval. “Declared and accepted is your lifebond. There are no greater bonds than that of a lifebond and wish you both happiness we do. Until the bond is stable, together you will stay, discuss separate missions at a later date we can.” The rest of the council seemed to only nod and murmur their congratulations.

“That being said, in our previous visit before the council, my bondmate insinuated that he would take Anakin Skywalker as his padawan when the time was right. I would tell you now that I too wish to take Anakin Skywalker as my padawan. With our bond, it is the only logical choice.”

“Two masters is not the normal…” Piell started.

“Let Knight Kenobi finish we will.” Yoda smacked his stick on the floor, using his 800 years of experience to bring an argument to a halt.
“Thank you Master Yoda. Two masters is not the normal training method, but the code only states that a master cannot have two padawans, nothing says the padawan cannot have two masters.” Obi-Wan smiled internally as he saw a few of the council members heads nod in agreement, if not approval. “Anakin Skywalker will be a powerful force user and he, as my bondmate once did, will have a long way to go in catching up to his peers. I can offer support and knowledge of the creche that Knight Jinn never quite understood. I would ask that you acknowledge our claim to Anakin, it is the will of the force.”

The councilors seemed to communicate amongst themselves. Both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan observed the faces for any clue as to how this request would turn out. “Padawan Skywalker, lucky he is to have two such masters that care and love for him as much as you do.” Yoda smiled.

“Padawan?” Qui-Gon interrupted, making sure he didn’t misunderstand the title.

“Padawan. Suggest a few missions under your belt before take the child you do, but Padawan he will be to both. However, speak on the issue of Shmi Skywalker now we must.”

“Yes Master. We understand that we are not supposed to interfere with the internal politics of those planets not within the Republic, but in this case it was needed. Both Master Dooku and I are strong in the unifying force and had a vision. In each and every one of those visions we saw a future were Shmi Skywalker’s death on Tatooine brought about the fall of Anakin Skywalker.”

“Saw the end of the Jedi, you did.” Yoda’s statement brought the room to utter silence.

“It all started with Shmi Skywalker. It may not have been within the code, but by freeing one slave, I believe we are on the right course to saving the Republic and the Jedi themselves.”

“The future is always in motion. I don’t believe that Anakin Skywalker is that important to change our whole system.” Ki-Adi-Mundi stood up and stared down at the newly titled Knight.

“Sometimes you have to see to the individual or the collective will fall, Master Mundi. I understand tradition, I understand that what I am asking will be hard to accept, but if we do not start to change then we will fall.” Obi-Wan was shining in the force, Qui-gon thought. His mate was meant for this, they were meant for this. The Jedi had become too rigid and they were meant change that fact.

Yoda nodded his head to Master Mundi and sat back down upon his council chair. “Knight Kenobi and Jinn, it is this council’s judgement that you were acting on behalf of Jedi and the force itself by freeing Shmi Skywalker. There will be no censure in this case, but we caution that this could set a precedent. If in the future, knights return with freed slaves, it will be your responsibility to assist with their acclimation into the temple.” Mundi almost smiled; perhaps they were finally coming around, Obi-Wan thought.

“Master Mundi, I do have another request.” Mace couldn’t help but almost laugh at the look on the councilors face.

“Of course you do, continue Kenobi.”

“I would request assignment to the creche for Shmi Skywalker. This will allow her employment, a place to stay and something to focus her new life on. She is a wonderful mother and can give our initiates the love and caring they require.”

“With her son in the creche, wouldn’t this contact allow your padawan an unhealthy attachment that is forbidden by the code?” Once more Piell was the one to speak out. “You are correct, it would allow an attachment, but I would say it is nothing but healthy and needed. It is time the Jedi realize that attachment is not against the force. Obsession, jealously and possession are of the dark side, but love, acceptance and belonging are of the light. I suggest the council start looking to revise the code.”

Yoda laughed and quickly raised his hand. “For another time this argument is. Perhaps on the council this young one should be.” Obi-Wan’s face paled at the words of the wise and ancient master. “I didn’t mean… I’m sorry master, I meant no offense.”

“Offense not given. I often thought our codes too strict, they were. Perhaps time for youth and new visions we need.” As the masters of the council seemed to argue amongst themselves, Qui-Gon came closer to Obi-Wan and held his hand tightly, hidden by their robes. He felt the need to connect and offer his other half support.

After about thirty minutes of silence, the air was thick with tension, but Yoda finally let out a grunt and started towards Obi-Wan. “Kneel you will.” Obi-Wan hastily felt the cold marble under his knees as he bowed in respect to the Grandmaster of the Jedi order. “Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi, bestow upon you the rank of Master this council does. Rise Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and take your place among us. Fight for the helpless, speak for the voiceless and bring about the future as a council member you shall.”

Mace, Jard and Qui-Gon couldn’t help the gasps that left their mouth with this surprise. He wouldn’t be the youngest councilor to ever grace the Jedi, but it was a near thing. Obi-Wan rose to his full height and smiled down at Yoda. “Are you sure, Master Yoda, as you’ve been so willing to point out, I am not going to go quietly with the consensus.”

“Sure we are. Needed this is, needed you are.” With those few words, the new Master wanted to weep. He had waited his entire life to feel wanted, to feel like he belonged within the Jedi halls. “Always belonged you have, Obi-Wan. Never apologize enough we can, but join us and help us change that you can.”

“Thank you Masters. I cannot say that I won’t be a handful, but I promise to work within the rules to ensure the Jedi avoid the bleak future I once saw.”

“May the force be with you, Master Kenobi.” Mundi spoke loudly, a smile coming to the always frowning face. All four Jedi turned from the council and quickly left the chamber. “Master Kenobi.” Jard whispered the words and suddenly wrapped the young man in his arms. “I have never been more proud to be your Master.”

“Congratulations young one. I guess I can’t call you that any longer, Congratulations Councilor Kenobi.” Mace laughed and pulled both Jard and Obi-Wan into his arms.

“I will call you many things, but I will not call you Master, my Ben.” Qui-Gon waggled his eyebrows at his mate and they all chuckled at the innuendo.

“While I do enjoy the group hug, if I’m going to be a respected Jedi Councilor, I probably shouldn’t look so uncivilized in public.” They all laughed as the four Jedi tightened their embrace on each other. “Deal with it, Padawan.” Jard finally felt the force around them ease. They had come a long way in the last cycle. From a group of four Jedi, to a family that would always be there for the other.

“Shall we go tell our new padawan the news?” Qui-Gon pulled his lover from Mace’s arms and tugged him against his own body. “You do know what this means, right?” Obi-Wan laughed at Qui-Gon’s confused look. “What?”

“This means, Master Jinn, that it’s time we see our Padawan.”

“Mast…Oh.” Qui-Gon hadn’t even realized that he himself was also a master now.

“And I find that I AM looking forward to calling you, Master…” the smoldering look he gave his companion left no doubt in its meaning.

“Brat.”

“Master Brat to you.”

“Let us go home, I find I want our family all together.” Obi-Wan spoke almost in a whisper as they all four left the council chambers and headed for their chambers. They had much to celebrate and share with both Shmi and Anakin Skywalker on this wonderful evening. It was an end of a mission but a beginning of a life time.