- Part One -
Fourteen-year-old Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi bristled as the Force around him swelled with warning. He wasn't surprised; he had been bothered by a feeling of urgency since his arrival on Tatooine, but he did wish he had more time. His Master hadn't yet returned to the spaceport from his final errand in Mos Espa, and he wasn't sure how long he could protect their transport and its pilots on his own.
Carefully scanning his surroundings, Obi-Wan silently wished he'd selected a different destination to make the repairs on their ship.The Hutt-controlled world hadn't been his only option. There were other, safer, Republic-friendly planets that he could have guided his Master and their pilots to, even with the damage to the hyper-drive. However, the Force had whispered its will and he had dutifully followed, only wondering later if he had heard correctly in the first place.
Obi-Wan sighed inwardly. To be fair to himself, their time on the desert world had gone quite smoothly. His Master had found the parts they needed with relative ease and the Spaceport personnel had been surprisingly accommodating whilst he installed them. In fact, for the most part, they had been left to their own devices. Yes, both his Master and he had sensed eyes watching wherever they went, but that wasn't uncommon. His Master and he were often treated with wariness, especially on planets where the population was made up by beings who disliked authority.
Obi-Wan frowned at the thought, wondering if it was even possible to narrow down what exactly the threat was. Mos Espa's Spaceport was a mess of banged-up ancient ships that were likely used in countless illegal operations, and crawling with battle-hardened, unsavory characters including bounty hunters, slavers, spice dealers, and thieves. Dark intentions filled the room making it difficult to pinpoint who or what was readying to attack, but as the warning grew stronger he focused in on it anyway, determined to find its source.
Obi-Wan was so consumed by the task that he didn't hear the co-pilot walk out of the ship and down the ramp, and he only barely caught the last couple of words he spoke. But, suddenly, there no time to apologize.
“Tell the pilot to start the engines, we will need to leave quickly once Master Qui-Gon returns,” he ordered urgently before turning back to warch the crowd.
- Master, I think we have overstayed our welcome, - he sent telepathically to his Jedi Master through their shared Master-Padawan bond.
- I’m coming. -
Obi-Wan felt the Force surge and his lightsaber flashed to life as blaster fire erupted from the crowd. He deflected only, carefully moving himself back onto the ramp as the Hangar exploded into chaos. People caught in the crossfire launched their own attack, some pointing their blasters at him, some turning on his new enemies. A Zygerrian rammed through the crowd using his head like a bull, and a Twi’lek woman started attacking a Hutt with a whip. More blasters were pulled out of holster’s and the young Jedi cursed as a blast grazed his shoulder. He sent a Force push at a group of slavers that had started shooting wildly, sending them tumbling to the ground.
- Hurry Master! -
Barely seconds after he sent the thought, he spotted the tall Jedi rushing through the mayhem towards the ship. The long-haired man weaved gracefully through the crowd, ducking under incoming punches and expertly avoiding the crossfire. While still defending, the Padawan took a moment to revel in his Master’s connection to the Living Force; however, his awe all but disappeared when he realized there was a reason that the man had not yet lit his lightsaber.
He had something bundled in his arms.
Obi-Wan groaned as he continued to deflect in a blue blur. Master Qui-Gon Jinn was, in his opinion, one of the best Jedi that the Order had to offer. Even though their beginnings had been rocky, he was proud to be the man's Padawan. Yet, at times, Master Jinn tested his patience like no other and this particular trait of his grated on Obi-Wan’s nerves the most.
Every single mission Qui-Gon Jinn proved that he wasn't able (or willing) to stick to the mandate. In their year together they had spent more time offplanet than at home as they followed the Living Force's will, veering this way and that, usually to aid ‘pathetic life-forms’ (as he had come to call them). He understood that his Master’s choices were made out of compassion, but he often wished that, just once, they could complete a task without sidetracking. Mostly because he would like to spend just a little more time at home. He sighed, thinking he should probably meditate on how selfish that was, and possibly why the Force wished to torture him so.
- Master... Is that what I think it is? -
Another shot grazed Obi-Wan and he forced himself to focus on the attack, or uprising, or whatever it was. He did his best to let his frustrations disappear into the Force while sending another push, this time at a new group of attackers. The ship had begun to take off and was hovering just off the ground. It made the ramp unsteady and he struggled to keep himself balanced while twisting his lightsaber in defense. He was sure that the fight was a bit above his level of training, but it was pointless worrying about it. Letting his fear join his frustrations in the Force, he continued to do his duty until the man he called Master leaped up onto the ramp and the two retreated inside.
It wasn't until the door closed and the ship sped into the sky that Obi-Wan noticed the bundle his Master carried was crying. Not crying, howling. The ear-shattering howls reverberated through the ship as they dashed to take their seats before they left the atmosphere.
“Master?” he questioned as he quickly buckled himself in.
It took all Obi-Wan’s self control not to roll his eyes. He added patience to his list of things to meditate on all the while attempting to peer over at the shrieking creature in his Master’s arms. He couldn’t make out what it was, although he had a good idea. One which was confirmed when it silenced for a split second to hiccup.
“Master, that’s… that’s a baby,” Obi-Wan gasped. He buckled the seat restraints without looking, his wide eyes glued to the infant that was already crying again.
“Well observed, Padawan,” Qui-Gon noted dryly.
The teenager probably would have flinched at his Master’s silent reprimand if he hadn’t been distracted by the fact that the man had to shout over the baby's howls. He scrubbed his hands over his face, exasperated.
“Oh Master, the Council is not going to like this," he groaned. While they had picked up Force-sensitive children before, it had always been at the request of the Council, and in Republic space.
Is this even legal? And what does he plan to do with it? Raise it?
Obi-Wan tried to get a better look at the screaming infant that his Master was trying to settle. Blue eyes, blond hair, human… boy? He let out a long suffering sigh. “Not at all," he added for good measure.
“I am aware, Obi-Wan,” his Master sighed, suddenly looking older than his years. “But I couldn’t leave him, his mother passed and he is Force-sensitive…” he trailed off, his gaze darting to the child that was yet to stop its screeching. The older man looked positively entranced, like the baby was a precious gift that he alone could care for.
“There’s more, isn’t there,” Obi-Wan prompted, his blue-gray eyes carefully analyzing his Master’s expression.
“Very perceptive,” Qui-Gon replied, his eyes darting up to meet Obi-Wan’s. "I did a midichlorian count and it was the highest I've ever seen. Over twenty thousand... I think he’s the Chosen One from the prophecy and I believe our meeting was the will of the Force.”
Obi-Wan didn’t know anything about a prophecy of a Chosen One but he did not doubt there was one. His Master was quite knowledgeable about the Jedi of old and their teachings, but, he couldn’t sort out his feelings or his thoughts on the matter because, somehow, the baby’s screams had become louder.
“Sounds like my second,” the co-pilot interrupted as he entered the galley. “Screamed and screamed and screamed she did. It’s called colic. You’ve just got to ride it out. Well, unless he’s hungry, or tired, or has a dirty nappy,” he told them matter-of-factly. Upon receiving identical frowns from Obi-Wan and his Master the uniformed man quickly changed the topic. “I- I came down to let you know we’re in hyper now. It will be about five days until we’re back on Coruscant...” He must have realized that pointing out the length of time they were to be stuck with a wailing, colicky baby didn’t help either because he left without another word.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes, slowed his breathing and tried to let go of his anxieties, but it didn't work. His wandering mind moved from the present and became lost in what-ifs and worst case scenarios. The most concerning was just how interesting things might become if the Council refused to let the child stay at the Temple. He glanced up at his Master and wondered if the man would adopt the boy.
- Here and now, Obi-Wan - his Master scolded through the Force. A blush rose in his cheeks at the realization that he hadn’t been shielding his mind as heavily as he thought.
“I'll see if there is some sort of milk,” Obi-Wan said unbuckling the webbing and getting up out of his seat, his focus once again returning to the child.
“There is a bottle and some milk powder in that bag,” Qui-Gon told him, pointing at a rucksack on the seat next to him from where he was now standing. “But you should see to those wounds first," Qui-Gon added, looking pointedly at his injuries as while he attempted to rock the child to sleep.
Obi-Wan groaned as the prompt brought pain to his shoulder and thigh and he found himself unconsciously trying to swell the Force around the wounds in an attempt to make them heal faster. Sighing, he released his pain, letting invisible currents carry it away, and then refocused on the baby.
“Maybe a sleep suggestion?” Obi-Wan suggested as he grabbed what he thought he needed out of the bag. He was rushing unnecessarily. The screaming combined with the lingering pain was making everything feel so very urgent.
“We’ll feed him first,” his Master replied. There was a pause and Obi-Wan could tell the man had felt him release his pain. “You fought well Obi-Wan, go and ask the pilot for some bacta patches. I can fix the bottle in a moment."
“It’s alright, Master, it's only a scratch and hr doesn't seem that happy about waiting,” Obi-Wan pointed out. Qui-Gon only frowned in response and Obi-Wan knew instantly it was because he had failed to prioritize his well-being once again. It was a trait that he shared with his Master, but he felt it was best not to point that out at that moment. Unfortunately the simple utterance of his choice probably meant more meditation, and for all his talk of it, he loathed meditating; though at least he had a list of things to think about this time.
Obi-Wan strode across the room towards the door but slowed when it occurred to him that he didn’t know what to call the youngling. “Does he have a name Master?” he asked, looking back at Qui-Gon and the child.
“His name is Anakin Skywalker."
The name was unfamiliar but something about it made him pause. His gaze returned to the boy as barely there whispers pulled at his soul. A sudden desperate desire to protect the child startled him and he found himself stepping closer, curious. Was it the boy calling him through the Force? Or was it the Force itself?
“Padawan?” his Master questioned. His mentor was giving him an inquiring look, obviously confused by Obi-Wan's sudden change in direction.
“May I hold him?” he asked after a moment, meeting the older Jedi’s dark blue eyes with his own. Qui-Gon's brow furrowed. “The Force wants me to," he cringed at the poor attempt of an explanation, “Or at least I think it's the Force. I guess it could be him."
Obi-Wan’s Master’s eyebrows shot up but he didn't refuse the request. Instead, he carefully handed the distraught infant to Obi-Wan who smiled reassuringly before dropping his gaze to the boy.
Anakin Skywalker stopped screaming the moment Qui-Gon let go. A contented sigh and a few hiccups escaped his lips, then he blinked himself awake. Obi-Wan smiled wider, endeared by the sight.
“I'm pleased to meet you, Anakin,” he said softly. Bright blue met blue-gray and the Living Force exploded with light. Obi-Wan breathed slowly as it encircled them, swirling, humming and sparkling with delight. Little Anakin’s Force signature beamed and he found himself staring at the little face awestruck. The youngling gave him a small smile then turned his face into Obi-Wan’s chest and his eyes fluttered closed.
Barely a second later, the Unifying Force hummed and he was tugged down into its depths. He let it flow through him, enjoying the comfort it provided. It was warm and safe and homelike… his old friend. Smiling softly as the caressing waves of energy nudged him, he opened his eyes and watched, entranced, as a rich and colorful planet appeared before him. The image swirled away, like too wet watercolors running into one another. Then the droplets floated up, painting the surrounding gray until he stood, silent and unmoving, in a colorful, translucent jungle. At a slight nudge from the Force he looked ahead to find they were not alone.
Before him were two Jedi, a Master and Padawan, knelt opposite each other, deep in meditation. Their palms were pressed together, their faces serene, and their tired bodies were held still by the Force. The worldly energy sang around them as the copper-haired Master’s light embraced the blond youth’s, healing physical and mental wounds, unraveling the dark threads that were weaved into his soul.
The powerful Padawan learned quickly, as he always did, and soon the bruises on his skin had faded and his mental shields were reinforced. He helped his Master until all the inky black wisps slipped away, leaving a Force presence that shone as brightly as a star. Then, a relieved sigh escaped his lips and slowly the pair returned from the Force.
“That was very good, Anakin,” the Master commended with a kind smile.
“Thank you, Master,” Anakin replied softly, his earnest extending far beyond the warm compliment. “Everything feels better now, lighter.”
The Master smiled wider and relief flooded his features as he ruffled the boy's messy locks. Gracefully, he stood and the exuberant youth bounced up beside him. He looked down, blue-gray met bright blue, and there was a quiet agreement, an acceptance, that everything would be all right because they had each other, and for now, that was enough.
Obi-Wan took in a sudden breath as light exploded and he returned to himself.
“Master!” Obi-Wan gasped as the older man caught him and Anakin in his arms as he stumbled forward, his knees suddenly weak. The Padawan looked up into the Jedi’s eyes, his mind racing with everything he'd just learned. He didn't really know where to start but…
“Master, he's my Padawan!"