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Now I Know

By Laheara

Part One
"You seem nervous Obi-Wan, is something wrong?" Hearing his masters voice Obi-Wan looked up from playing with his sleeve to see Qui-Gon watching him.
"No, itís nothing," he replied but Qui-Gon didnít look convinced. "Well maybe it is something, Iím not sure, I just feel strange. This is the first time Iíve been back to the Temple since you took me as your Padawan. The first time Iíll see my friend as one and not a cadet. I donít know how Iíll react to seeing them and the Temple again, and Iím not sure how theyíll react to me." He returned to playing with a loose thread on his sleeve. He felt better having something to occupy his mind with even if it wasnít really working.
Qui-Gon remembered feeling that way on his first return trip to the Temple. He felt like things would be so different between he and his friends, and they would all feel uncomfortable; fortunately, he was pleasantly proved wrong. His friends were as happy to see him as he was to see them. "I remember feeling like that to. I worried all the way back to Coruscant and when my master and I entered the Temple everything was as it was when I left it. My friends were happy to see me, we were as if nothing had changed. Iím sure it will be the same for you. I do know for sure that all of your close friends are still there, and Bant is looking forward to seeing you."
Obi-Wan perked right up at the mention of her name. She was one of his closest friends. He remembers swimming with her at night in the river behind the Temple. The water turned the same color as her eyes, and she could swim like a fish. He wouldnít mind a swim right now, it was a great memory. He was beginning to look forward to returning to the Temple. "Maybe this wonít be so bad then. Will we report to the counsel first?"
"Yes, Yoda is expecting us. The report will be short and then I will arrange time for you to find your friends. Your old room is still free if you would like to stay there while weíre visiting." Qui-Gon knew what the answer would be to that question. Obi-Wanís room was in the middle of all of friendsí, so they came together there.
"Yes, I would like to go back there." He was thinking about all the stories to tell his friends. The adventures aboard the Monument, the mines on Bandomeer, the trouble on Gala and Phindar, and several less exciting ones lately.
"Weíre on final approach to the Temple now sir." the pilot of their red and white diplomatic vessel reported to Qui-Gon.
"Thank you captain. Weíll be ready," Qui-Gon answered politely.
Obi-Wan stood up and walked over to the window. He always loved to watch his ship getting closer and closer to the spires of the Temple. Watching it get bigger and bigger. The ancient rule that nothing on Coruscant could be taller then the Temple always pleased him. It made his home look very grand and huge, not that it wasnít big enough already.
He remembered his first piloting session. He was so scared he would run the shuttle into an air bus or a building that he almost refused to take the controls. When he did he felt so comfortable that he rose to be one of the best pilots in his age group. Heíd flown several things on Coruscant, and now a huge mining transport and a royal liner.
"Weíll be landing at the Temple momentarily, are you ready?" Qui-Gon saw that his student was deep in thought and didnít really expect an answer right away. He understood by remembering all the things that were going through his head his first visit home. He reached out and tapped Obi-Wan on the shoulder to get his attention.
Obi-Wan had been so deep in remembering and watching the Temple he didnít realized his master was standing right behind him. "Yes, Iím ready."
"Youíll have 3 days to admire the Temple, now we have to meet with Master Yoda," he directed Obi-Wan to the exit ramp, "Come now."
* * * * * * They walked into the corridor several levels above where his friends would be in training drills right now. Obi-Wan didnít even notice Qui-Gon was watching him. Qui-Gon saw the boy noting everything is sight remembering his past life here.
It was one of the things he liked about his new Padawan, the way he never missed a thing and his memories were so important to him. He was also glad that Obi-Wan still remembered all of this after what had almost happened to him on Phindar a few weeks ago. That experience had really driven home just what this new Padawan meant to him. He remembered being so angry when he first heard what happened at Syndicate headquarters, then the very strong feeling of loss and sorrow. It was happening again. We was letting himself become attached to another student. It will go well this time because he could feel the overwhelming good in Obi-Wan, this student wonít turn.
Obi-Wan stopped suddenly and was standing beside a small scratch in the pattern on the wall. "I made that scratch. Bant and Reeft and I were playing a game, Bant and I cornered Reeft against the wall. He had stolen our desserts at dinner and we went after him during free time that night as a joke. We were about to charge him and mess up his hair when Yoda walked by. I was holding a fork and fell against the wall as Yoda surprised us. The fork ran against the rock and made this scratch but I didnít notice it right away."
Qui-Gon smiled, it was the kind of prank that he would have played on one of his friends at the Temple. "How did Yoda take you scratching our Temple walls?"
"He didnít notice right away, Bant helped me get back on my feet and he asked us what we were doing up here," Obi-Wan smiled and blushed a little. "We hadnít realized where we were, we looked around an realized we were on the level below the spires which was off limits to students. He smiled and looked at us with those sleepy eyes then told us to go back down below and he wouldnít tell our other instructors but to remember not to come here again."
Qui-Gon looked at the scratch and nodding toward it asked, "What about the wall?"
"When we thanked him and started to leave we noticed the scratch. He had already started to walk away but when we didnít follow him he came back and asked us why we hadnít left yet and I looked at the wall and the fork in my hand with blue dust from the wall. We thought he would change his mind and weíd all be in trouble, but he just looked at it and said, ĎRemember this you will, that even pranks can cause damage or worse. Be more careful you must,í then he robbed one finger over it and stood up saying, Ďit gives the corridor a little character you think?" Obi-Wan robbed the scratch the same way Yoda had, it was less noticeable now as it was then. He always thought that it was funny Yoda let them get away with that, but now he understood that sometimes it is better to let someone deal with a mistake themselves.
"That sounds like something he would do. With him everyone gets one chance to do something foolish and be forgiven," Qui-Gon said with small laugh.
"Yes, always an important thing, forgiveness is," Yoda said from behind them. They both turned quickly to greet the Jedi Master and leader of the counsel. "Report to the counsel you were supposed to ten minutes ago." They had both lost track of the time during this little story. Yoda looked at them sternly at first then his expression softened and he said with a smile, "Report to us now I hope you will."
"Yes, master," Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan said together quickly.
"I apologize for this Master Yoda, I stopped Qui-Gon to tell him a story, he was just humoring me," Obi-Wan noted in his Masters defense.
"In trouble you are not, remember the day you spoke of I do; a good memory to have resurfaced," the small master smiled looking Obi-Wan over from head to toe. "Knew I that one day a fine young man you would be become, correct was I Master Qui-Gon?"
Qui-Gon looked at Obi-Wan thoughtfully and replied, "Very correct my Master. He has become a fine young man."
Obi-Wan looked up at his new master and smiled inside and out. In all their time together Qui-Gon had never actually said how he felt toward his new Padawan; now that he had Obi-Wan felt very satisfied. As they followed Yoda down the corridor to the lift up to the counsel chambers Obi-Wan leaned closer to Qui-Gon and whispered, "Thank you for saying that Master."
Qui-Gon leaned down closer to Obi-Wan and said in response, "Youíre welcome, and I meant what I said. Weíll talk about this again later."
& & & & & & Qui-Gon was right, reporting to the counsel hadnít taken long at all and now Obi-Wan was free for the rest of the night to find his friends. Afternoon drills were over now and free time would be starting soon. This was he and his friendsí favorite time of the afternoon, it was when theyíd get together and have fun.
Obi-Wan walked by the training room and saw Bant and Reeft inside putting away their weapons. They looked the same as when heíd left a couple of months ago. They were starting toward the door talking about something. Obi-Wan ducked into the evening shadow on the outside of the door and waited. He heard their voices coming closer, then as Bant came through he flew out and picked her up around her small waist making sure not to squeeze to tightly.
Bant squealed and looked behind to see her old friend. Then she yelled, "Put me down Obi-Wan!"
As soon as he did she wheeled around and hit him in the upper arm half-heartedly. Then she and Reeft gave their friend a long bear hug and everyone laughed. When they parted Bant looked Obi-Wan over and remarked, "You look great!"
"So do you both, itís so wonderful to be back here with again. I really missed you guys," he said with a big smile. And he really had, they were his whole family and loosing them and the Temple all at once hit him harder then heíd thought it would.
"Itís great to see you again, and we missed you to Obi-Wan. How have you been? I your new master treating well? Whatís it like to have a master? Is it everything we thought it would be? How did your birthday go, we had a little ceremony ourselves for you, you know? Have you seen much excitement? How long are you back for?" Reeft couldnít shut himself up, he had a million questions to ask and wanted to know how long he had to ask them.
"Slow down Reeft, give Obi-Wan time to think. That last one I do want to know myself, how long are you back for?" she asked with concern in her eyes. She hoped it would long enough for them to get caught up and exchange stories.
"Qui-Gon said Iím here for 3 days if everything goes according to schedule, which he thinks it should," Obi-Wan replied hoping that was enough time.
"Thatís great we can talk about everything, and do some with you while youíre here," she said with a big smile, already planning his next three days herself.
"So, big question, when do we get to meet to Qui-Gon. Iíve heard so much about him since the news got out that he took you after all. Whatís he like?"
Reeft was doing it again, asking a million question a minute, but Obi-Wan didnít mind he was glad to back with his friends. "I guess you can meet whenever you want to, and yes he is a great teacher. Weíre getting along very well, I think?"
"What does that mean?" Bant asked.
"Well Qui-Gon isnít that easy to read, Iíve known him now for a few weeks and Iím still lost to figure him out. Iím not sure Iíll ever know him really well, he keeps very much to himself. But heís been a really great friend so far," Obi-Wan answered them. He knew he should explain, but they knew he didnít want to.
It was true, Qui-Gon didnít talk much about himself. That story on the ship back here this morning was the first time other then the river rock story that Qui-Gon had told Obi-Wan anything about his past. He was glad that his new master was starting to open up to him, especially knowing how hard it for him considering Xanatos.
Suddenly Obi-Wanís comlink activated, it was Qui-Gon, "Obi-Wan."
"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan answered right away.
"Sorry to interupt your remenising, but Yoda needs to talk to the two of us about our next mission. Can you come back up to the Counsel Chambers?" Qui-Gon asked obviously knowing the answer, there was no way his student would say no.
"Yes Master, Iíll be right there," he relied to his teacher. He looked at his friends, and frowned, "Sorry guys gotta go, but I shouldnít take long or Qui-Gon would have said so."
"Thatís OK, youíre a Padawan now, you have to answer to your master at all times. We know the drill, and hopefully weíll have the chance someday to," Bant reminded her old good friend.
"Anyway, Iíve got my old room back while Iím visiting, so you know where to find me. Iíll call you when Iím done and we can meet there," Obi-Wan informed his friends.
"Thatís convenient," Reeft noted.
"I thought apprenticeís always stayed with their masters, how did you swing that?" Bant asked curiously and a little concerned, "Is he mad at you for something?"
"No, no, he just knows that I really want to be with my friends and weíve got years to share rooms together so he asked Yoda for me and told me on the ship coming here this morning," Obi-Wan informed his worried friend.
But he didnít think of that. He hadnít thought anything of it, just took it a face value this morning. He had noticed Qui-Gon gave a little sign when he answered he would rather stay in the student rooms to be with his friends. . Now he was worried, had he failed some kind of test with his master?
* * * * * * * Qui-Gon had gone to the map room after reporting to the counsel with Obi-Wan. He always liked this room, there was so much knowledge contained here, that was your to learn if you made the right choice of what planet to ask it from.
Since he had asked Obi-Wan about staying in his old room he had been reoccupied. It was a classic test master gave their students. The student must look inside themselves and decide which they would rather, their new master or their tried and true friends. The students who choose their masters are the ones who the master has made feel comfortable and welcome. Most students choose their friends, because they know how to react to friends and donít have to worry about friends seeming mean.
Obi-Wan choose his friends, and now Qui-Gon looked back at the last couple of months at how he has treated the boy. Qui-Gon was rude and uncaring toward him aboard the Monument and for a while after, even when they arrived on Bandomeer. He hadnít given Obi-Wan his trust because he was still over shadowed by his experience with Xanatos. But Obi-Wan knew that, it was all explained, and recently on Phindar they had worked together well. But, he did criticize his friendship with Guerra, and didnít explain why he had decided to help the Derida brothers.
Qui-Gon realized he hadnít been the caring mentor he should have been. Of course Obi-Wan chose to be with his friends here, he knew he had the next several years to be stuck with his new uncaring master. Now knowing how the boy felt toward him felt strange. He hadnít realized how much Obi-Wan decision had hurt him, even thought he understood now why it was made. Would he ever be able to gain his new Padawanís trust and respect?
"Troubled you seem Qui-Gon," Yoda said from behind him in the darkness. "Obi-Wan chose badly I see."
"No master, he chose wisely, I chose badly," Qui-Gon felt as thought he were losing an apprentice all over again. "I havenít been the master to him I should have been, I havenít given him trust. There is no reason he should wish to stay with me when his true friends are only a level away who accept him."
"See I that this boy does care for you Qui-Gon, time you must give him to realize it himself," Yoda moved closer and sat next to Qui-Gon, "Stay with your new master you did not either as I remember."
It was true, but he and his master had a disagreement the day before returning to the Temple. He and Obi-Wan had no such problem. "I feel as though Iím pushing Obi-Wan away again. But by the time I realize it the damage has already been done. I donít want to alienate him like I did before on the Monument, but keep doing it."
"How did his birthday go," the small Master asked?
"It was the day before we had the trouble on Phindar, I admonished him for not following the tradition of reflection. Then when I tough I had lost him, I wanted to take that back more then anything," Qui-Gon remember how his heart fell when Duenna told him what happened, and then how he felt seeing Obi-Wan again coming off Prince Bejuís ship. Still he had not told the boy how he felt.
"Think you Obi-Wan does not know your feelings for him?" Yoda asked in his you know what to do tone.
"I honestly donít know what he thinks of me," Qui-Gon admitted.
"Then ask him you must," Yoda stated, "after I have told you what his to be your next mission, you will talk to your new apprentice."
Qui-Gon asked surprised, "The new mission is ready now?"
"Yes, has been waiting for you both," Yoda replied, "Problem this is?" "I told Obi-Wan he would have a couple of days to spent with his friends," Qui-Gon said.
"Require the 2 of you the mission does not, leave him here you may," Yoda offered.
Qui-Gon thought about that. Would it be better to leave him here and keep his promise? Or would Obi-Wan feel left out again should Qui-Gon leave him behind. "I will tell him to meet me in the chambers for our new mission report."
"Decided you have not," Yoda noted as he left.
He reached for his comlink and activated it, "Obi-Wan."
* * * * * In the counsel chambers for the second time in one day. This was unusual. He noticed Qui-Gon seemed uneasy throughout the meeting. When it was over he noticed Yoda watching him too. Now he was sure, that must have been a test this morning and he chose the wrong answer.
"Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon waver for him to join his master on the balcony, "before you rejoin your friends there is something I need to speak with you about."
Obi-Wan looked at Qui-Gon with a worried expression, "I know, that was a test this morning wasnít it? About staying with my friends or you." Qui-Gon was impressed Obi-Wan had figured it out so soon, "Yes it was."
"I know I made the wrong choice, Iím sorry, I wonít stay there if you donít want me to." Obi-Wan wanted to make this right, he didnít want to hurt his master.
"The reason the question is asked when it is is to make you go with your instincts. It is as much a test for you as for me. It shows me I havenít treated like I should have, I havenít earned your trust. Which is why is you would want to be with your friends who do take you as you are," as Qui-Gon explained the test he saw Obi-Wan shaking his head in disagreement. He admire that about Obi-Wan, the way he would never intentionally hurt anyoneís feelings.
"No, thatís not true. I wasnít paying attention when you asked me, I was thinking about the things I used to do with them. I know thatís not the person that you are going to make me," Obi-Wan knew what he was saying didnít make much sense, but he was very uncomfortable.
Qui-Gon looked at him and thought for a moment, "It is not the job of a Master to change a Padawan, but to improve on what is already there. I donít wish to change you, you have many good qualities. I want to teach you to use them to their extent."
"This coming out the way I want it to. I donít want you to be angry Master," his Apprentice was noticeable hurt by this line of questioning. He should just move on the mission suggestion Yoda made.
"I can see that I have hurt you, Iím sorry Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon apologized, "but what I want to talk to you about is the mission. I said you would have a few days with your friends, but this mission leaves tonight."
"Iíll be ready," Obi-Wan responded quickly.
"Yoda suggested that you may want to stay here. It is not necessary for us both to go, I can handle it alone."
Now Obi-Wan was on the spot again. Should he go or stay, he made the wrong choice before, he didnít want to again. "Do you want me to stay?" he asked.
"It is your decision, this is not a test. I said you had 3 days with your friends."
So that was it, he was trying to keep his promise. It would be nice to spend time with Bant and Reeft, but they said he was a Padawan now. He had to follow his master, "I want to go."
Good, this would give them time to talk. He made sure not to show his relief but answered, "Very well, we leave in 10 hours. You have until then to be with your friends. I will meet you at the ship in 10 hours."
"Yes Master," he wanted to ask but wasnít sure how to bring it up. Very shyly he whispered to himself, "Ask him you coward."
Qui-Gon saw there was more in Obi-Wanís face, "Ask me what?"
Obi-Wan hadnít thought he said it loud enough to be heard, then he remembered, all Jedi Knights have excellent senses. He asked without looking up, "Bant and Reeft would really like to meet you. I said I would ask."
"I see," Qui-Gon said quietly.
Obi-Wan could see that it wasnít going to happened, "Iím sorry, I shouldnít asked. You have more important things to do with your time. Iíll leave you alone." He started to walk toward the lift embarrassed.
Qui-Gon could see the ashamed look on his studentís face. He wasnít pushing him away again, "Obi-Wan wait!" The boy stopped and turned to meet his Master coming toward him, "I would be happy to meet your friends."
Obi-Wan perked right up, a broad smile came across his face and that sparkle that Qui-Gon enjoyed was back in his eyes. "Really? I mean great. When are you free?"
"Now if that is convenient for you," Qui-Gon said smiling.
"Yes, itís perfect. Theyíre waiting for me at the river by now, itís tradition for us." Obi-Wan was very excited. You could have cut through the tension on that balcony with a lightsaber. It felt good to get some happiness into the air between them.
* * * * * Bant and Reeft were at the river like Obi-Wan said they would be. When he stepped out, they began to move toward him all smiles, but then they saw Qui-Gon. It is customary for students to act differently around Masters then with their friends. They stood waiting for the two to approach them.
"Hi guys, you said you wanted to meet him, so here he is," Obi-Wan looked at his friends and noted, "you can breath you know, he wonít bite you."
His friends went to laugh, but looked to the Master for permission. Qui-Gon nodded and smiled saying, "Itís alright, I think we can dispense with formality this time. Just relax."
They immediately relaxed and smiled at their friend and waited for introductions. Obi-Wan was glad that the air here was also a little more easy. "Bant and Reeft, this is my master Qui-Gon Jinn, master, Bant and Reeft."
He shook hands with both students, "A pleasure to meet you both finally. Obi-Wan speaks highly of you."
Bant blushed, "He spoke very highly of you this afternoon too."
Qui-Gon looked at Obi-Wan and the boy just shrugged. Maybe things werenít as bad between them as he thought. Obi-Wan saw the pleased look in his masterís eyes, and thought the same.
"Was there anything in particular you wanted to ask, or just to meet me?" Qui-Gon asked studying both students.
They looked at each other, then to Obi-Wan. Bant finally spoke, "Not really, we just wanted to meet you. Make sure you were taking care of our friend."
Reeft jumped in and added, "And to make sure he wasnít causing you to much trouble."
Obi-Wan was the one to start blushing now, "Come on guys."
"No theyíre quite right. Friends have the right to know how one of their own is acting and being treated," he said in Obi-Wan direction, "To ease your minds, he is turning out to be a very interesting apprentice. Heís even surprised me on a few occasions."
Reeft looked at his friend, "How much do you think Obi-Wan paid him the say that Bant?"
She looked hard at her old friend and with a finger on her chin said, "Iím not sure, but it must have been good." Then they all laughed.
* * * * * * Qui-Gon stayed for almost an hour getting to know Obi-Wanís friends, and listening to stories and given out a few of their adventures together recently. Then he noted the sun was below the Coruscant skyline and graciously excused himself.
"Well, it has been very enjoyable meeting and talking to you both; however, I will leave and let you get back to your plans for the night," he said looking out the windows.
They all stood up in respect and shook hands again. Bant smiled and said, "Itís been an honor to meet you as well, Master. Thank you for coming."
"Itís been my pleasure," he smiled at them both, and nodded to Obi-Wan, "Iíll see you later."
"Yes, Master Iíll be there," Obi-Wan said with a nod. They watched Qui-Gon leave then all sat down again near the river. "What did he mean meet you later?" Bant asked eyeing her friend.
Obi-Wan knew this coming but still wasnít ready for it. He looked at his friends and said rather sheepishly, "Thereís been a change in plans. Iím leaving late tonight for Recellan 2 on our next mission."
"What happened?" Reeft asked.
"The shuttle pilot must have gotten the information mixed up somehow. Qui-Gon asked me if I wanted to stay here, but I said I wanted to go with him." Obi-Wan looked up for the first time now.
"You made the right decision. He is your master now, you are supposed to go on missions together so he can teach you things," Bant said.
Obi-Wan gave a little smile. Bant always made him feel better. "Thanks, you guys are great."
"Well, weíre just going to have to make the next few hours count arenít we. We should go get a late snack before the kitchen closes," Reeft threw out.
Obi-Wan laughed, "Well you sure havenít changed."
"Oh youíve got that right," Bant said staring at Reeft shaking her head.
"What?" Reeft asked looking innocent.
Then Bant and Obi-Wan laughed together. Reeft looked confused, "It was a perfectly good suggestion." Then his friends put an arm each around him as they all stood up and walk back toward the Temple doors.
* * * * * * It was now 3 a.m., the time Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon were to leave for Recellan 2. Qui-Gon boarded the ship to wait, then a couple of minutes later Obi-Wan ran in and found his master, "Sorry Iím late, we couldnít get Reeft out of the river."
Qui-Gon smiled, "Did you enjoy your first visit back?"
"Yes, very much. I donít know why I was so nervous. It was just like old times," Obi-wan said remembering the fun the three had in the past.
"Thatís good to hear," he said watching Obi-Wan remember, "You should get some sleep now. It will take about 3 hours to get to Recellan."

Part Two
Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon were meeting with the representative to the Chief Electorate about the final plans of the diplomatic conference. The Senate wanted this conference to go off without a hitch and requested that two Jedi be present to see that it does. Qui-Gon looked distant for a few seconds, but Obi-Wan thought nothing of it. He was likly thinking of ways to make this conference as safe as possible. All Obi-Wan saw was a look of fear and then his Master pushed him to the ground and landed on top of him. Suddenly with no warning,an enormous explosion rocked the compound. There were injured people and demolished architecture everywhere. When the dust cleared, Obi-Wan pulled him free and looked up. In horror he saw that a window had been smashed and a huge shard of glass was tedering dangerously threatening to come down on him and his Master. Obi-Wan turned back expecting tosee his Master preparing to stand but he was not moving. "Master, there is a piece a glass hanging a few meters above us I think may fall. We should move." Obi-Wan looked up again and when no response came he turned his attention to man on ground beside him. "Master?" Still no movement, and now concern began to flood through his 13 year-old body. Obi-Wan slowly eased himself toward his Master, careful not anger his already injured body. He slowly reached out a shakinghand toward Qui-Gon. Upon touching he noted warmth, and a instant of relief hit him gladly. Then he took a grib on his Master's shoulder and rolled him over to see... Dread, fear, anger, worry, concern, panic. A dozen emotions hit Obi-Wan at once. He knew there had to be injured people here after an explosion like that one. Even so, it had never entered his mind that his Master could be one of them. Qui-Gon seemed indistructible, always alert, always ready. Then he remembered, Qui-Gon had pushed him to the ground to protect him, not concerned with himself. Then out of the corner of his eyes he noted a fire was gathering intensity around a group of barrels just inside the hanger. He looked closer and read "Danger! Fuel for drilling riggs. Very flamable!" Then suddenly, as if they had been waiting for someone to notice them, the barrels ignited in a brillant display of fire and flying deprise. Large pieces of metal flew through the air in all directions. Now itwas Obi-Wan's turn to protect his Master. He had just enought time to moved as close as he could and shield his Master from the flying razor sharppieces. All he remembered is hearing something screaming toward him and intense pain in his upper back. He felt light-headed and then sank down next to his fallen Master.
With a start, Obi-Wan awoke in a cold sweat in his quarters aboard the diplomatic transport. He looked at the time and they were a little more then 5 hours out from Coruscant still on their way to Recellan. He looked around to see Qui-Gon watching him from the bed just next tohis. "Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you," Obi-Wan apologized rubbing his temples.
"I just had the strangest dream..." Qui-Gon cut him off mid-sentence, "It was not a dream, it was a vision given to us both by the Force."
Then Obi-Wan saw that his Master was pale and noticable shaken as well and said, "You saw it too?" Obi-Wan asked as if he could hardly believe it.
"Yes," his Master said simply.
"Is that future certain, or can we still change it?" Obi-Wan asked with increased uneasiness.
"We are always able to change the future since it has not yet happened," Qui-Gon then looked as though he was wishing something. "I knew I should have told you to stay at the Temple."
Obi-Wan, while still a little disoriented, looked confused, "You knew about this before?"
"Not exactly," now he turned back to his apprentice, "I knew something was going to happen soon, but not what or when. Now this vision has answered the question."
"Is that why you asked me if I wanted to stay at the Temple and let you handle this alone? You knew this mission could be dangerous?" Obi-Wan asked happy that his new Master thought enought to want to protect him.
Qui-Gon gave a half smile. He was impressed at how quickly his apprentice was figuring him out, "Yes, that was part of the reason, and I wanted you to have more time with your friends."
Obi-Wan looked at his Master, there was obvious concern on his facewhen he looked at the boy, "Well I don't want anything to happen to either of us. So what can we do to prevent this visions from coming true?"
Qui-Gon looked at Obi-Wan, he was touched by the boy's honesty. He didn't want anything to happen to Obi-Wan or himself either.
"I'm not sure. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."
"Master?" Obi-Wan looked intently to his Master.
"Yes, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon answered hearing not only with his ears but through the Force as well.
"If we can't find a way to stop this from happening," he looked very serious, "I don't want you to do anything to save me that may endanger yourself. You have more experience and you're more important then I am."
Qui-Gon looked into his young Padawan's eyes. He was just about to say something very similar. Qui-Gon had grown to admire his student's sense of purpose and caring. Obi-Wan would never intentionally do anything to hurt another and would not want them to endanger themselves on his account. Qui-Gon put a reassuring hand on his apprentice's shoulder, "I won't if you will do the same for me." There was a hint of a laugh in his voice.
Obi-Wan picked up the hint and said, "I'm serious. You have much more to offer then I do. These are your missions. The Senate trusts you, not me. And besides, it's my responsibility to protect you if you need me."
It sounded strange when it came out. A Padawan protecting a Master? But in their short time together the need had arisen a number of times. And the need went both ways. Obi-Wan had paid attention in classes well. It was a rule that if an apprentice were to see a Master in danger, they were to do anything to help. Even if that meant taking a hit for the Master. Qui-Gon knew from his past experience that Obi-Wan was the kind to take the hit. Qui-Gon had never liked that rule because it made it sound like the students weren't important. He had just allowed himself to become close to this new Padawan, he would not lose him because of a rule created over 25000 years-ago. Qui-Gon looked at Obi-Wan thoughtfully, he was beginning to see more and more of what Yoda saw in the boy. He had hidden talents that weren't noticable but there if you knew what to look for.
"Obi-Wan, I don't want you to take any major risks for me either. Let's make a deal that we will warn each other, and help when ever possible. I am your Master, and I can't teach you if you are dead now can I?" Afraid that Qui-Gon would not react well to his feelings, Obi-Wan looked out the window not being able to answer his Master eye to eye, "I can't promise that. Except for Yoda, you're all I have now. I hope you understand."
Now there was an erie silence between them. There, they're feelings for each other were out in the open. Obi-Wan half expected to be admonished for contradicting a Master, but...what????
Qui-Gon reached out and took his apprentice by the left arm in a firm grip, and turned Obi-Wan around to face his him. Qui-Gon seemed to looked at Obi-Wan for hours, memorizing every centimeter of him. The look in Qui-Gon's eyes was the most intense feeling young Obi-Wan had ever felt. It wasn't anger, or dismissal like he usually was...the strongest most pure kind of...LOVE. Obi-Wan realized what was happening, his Master was opening up that one place in his heart Obi-Wan had never been permitted before now. The place that had been scarred so deeply by Xanatos' betrayal all those years ago. Yoda was right all along. They both felt it now. All the years that Qui-Gon had visited the Temple and always seemed to notice Obi-Wan scampering around, being the one Master to come to the Temple the day Obi-Wan had been kicked out for misbehaving. Ending up on the Monument together, Qui-Gon caring for his injuries after the fight with theHutt. Obi-Wan being able to call out on the island that the Arconans were dying then Qui-Gon being able to call back a warning about the draigons. The way Qui-Gon knew after tring the comlink with no answer thatObi-Wan was in trouble on Bandomeer, feeling intense worry watching the happenings at the edge of the Mining Platform, the way he would have done anything to stop Obi-Wan from being killed in the mine. The terror he felt at never getting *his* Obi-Wan back after the memory wipe on Phindar. Waiting to learn the boy's plan before acting...and so much more... They saw it light as day now. Fate, the Force, the universe, what ever you call it. It wanted them to be together because they were right for each other in every way, the perfect father/son relationship. Then as if in response to some unspoken order, they found themselves in long tender hug. Each felt so at home, and at peace. Qui-Gon still holding Obi-Wan makes a promise, "I will never, ever do anything to hurt you, or to drive you away. I will try to never make you cry for as long as we are together."
Obi-Wan felt warmth like never before. He saw a blur a realized it was from tears of joy, he answered, "I promise the same, and I will never keep anything from you and be a friend for as long as you want me."
* * * * * * * * *
Several light-years back on the giant, gem-like world of Coruscant, a small Jedi Master listening during a Council meeting stops the group. His co-head Mace asks, "What is wrong Master Yoda?"
Yoda smiles deeply, "Wrong? No nothing is wrong. Right, very right everything is for them now."
The other members of Council were confused until finally they all sensed it too. Somewhere in the expanse of space, a Master and Padawan had taken the final step of closness and had become ONE. Everyone smiled. A calm decended over the Jedi Temple, felt by student, Knight and Master alike. * * * * * * * * * Then after an eternity or two, the two broke apart softly. They looked at each other somehow feeling different...closer...more connected.
"Did you feel it?" the Master questioned, already knowing the answer.
His Padawan seemed to be feeling a million things at once, "Yes. That was it wasn't it? The final step?"
"It was. Now we are ONE, only to separated by death. And even after that, bond will still live on in the Force." They had another shared moment in memory. Looking into the future to their lives together, the good and the bad. Things were as they should be, but they still remembered the shared dream the Force had sent them that morning. It wanted them together, and it warned them to be careful for danger layahead.

Part Three

The next morning both Master and Padawan came up to the bridge to see their final approach to Recellan. They stood behind the pilots infront of the larger viewer overlooking the planet below. They stood withtheir hands buried in their large cloaks, Obi-Wan in his usual position: a step back and to Qui-Gon's right side as was the tradition for Jedi apprentices. Both seemed at ease but kept looking at each other; however, they did not speak of these anxieties. They vividly remembered the dream that showed what would happen here. Anyone else would have most likelyturned around and left, but they were Jedi and the people of this world needed their help.
The ship's captain had been conversing with the co-pilot on how to land without instructions from the surface.
"Why do we not have communications with the surface?" Qui-Gon asked.
"We just heard that the planet is engulfed in a Civil War for the last 3 days. What was left of the government just collapsed." The co-pilot was scared the planetary problems may erupt into orbit as well.
"We're not going to be able to take the representative back with us. He's likely dead by now, with the rest of his government. I suggest we turn back now before they start shooting at us too."
"It is against the Jedi way to leave a planet in this kind of condition without asking if they need help. We will land and offer. If they reject we will leave. If not we will stay and you may return to Coruscant without us," Qui-Gon seemed so calm, even though he knew what could happen if they went down there.
The co-pilot was ashamed that while he panicked like a coward they were willing to stay. He forgot for a moment he was talking to Jedi, nothis usual breed of passengers. After he controlled his concern, "No, we will remain if you do. We *were* sent as your escort by the Senate."
"It is not necessary that we all risk ourselves. If we do stay, you must return to orbit to wait for us. As you said they may resort to violence above as well as below."
Qui-Gon saw the thankful look in the man's eyes.
"As you wish sir," the captain said calmly but she also seemed relieved.
"Take us down on the outskirts of the capital. We don't want to draw more attention then needed," Qui-Gon instructed the captain.
"We will go to prepare. Contact us when we've landed."
"Yes, sir."
* * * * * * * *
Having left the bridge, Qui-Gon found Obi-Wan further down the corridor,staring at the planet so intently he could have burned a hole in the view port he was standing in front of. Qui-Gon assumed he was worried about what would happen to them should they land.
"I can feel the people's down there's anger and fear. The suffering. There are many injured, and something...I can't There are many injured, and something...I can't...quite...grasp. I've never felt it before and I don't want to feel it again..."
Obi-Wan looked to his Master for help.
"What is that?" Qui-Gon could feel curiosity but also sadness in his Apprentice. He knew that feeling all to well, and didn't really want to subject his young Padawan to it so soon.
He leaned in closer to the boy, a notable flat unhappiness in his voice.
"It is one of the most unpleasant feelings to sense. The feeling of devastated parents mourning their children. I have been in places like this before and it is unfortunate that anyone should have to live this way."
"If it is strong enough to be felt in orbit, it must be even more powerful once you land," Then with honest curiosity and sadness in his eyes, Obi Wan asked, "Do you really think there's anything we can do for them,".
"I hope so. We must try," Qui-Gon said looking out the window, wondering the same thing.
Then his attention returned to his Padawan. If it were any other child, Qui-Gon would never have let him see this. But Jedi are called upon to deal with these types of problems. He looked into the boy's eyes and asked, "Are you sure you want to go into the capital with me?"
Obi-Wan looked back as if there was no choice to make here, "I'm not letting you go alone. Alone, one is vulnerable, together we can watch out for each other. They always told us at the Temple, 'two is better than one'"
Then Obi-Wan remembered the dream again. Qui-Gon had thrown him to the ground to protect him from the explosion. Had he been alone, he may have taken cover and not been hurt. At this thought, Obi-Wan grow very scared. What if going is why his Master was hurt? Qui-Gon sensed the wave of bone-chilling fear that had just come over his apprentice. Very concerned, he put a hand on the boy's shoulderand asked, "What is it Obi-Wan?"
Trying to stay in control, the boy closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to push the feeling away enough to talk. He looked up into his Master's concerned face and said, "The vision. You protected me.You felt the danger, and instead of diving for cover, you pushed me down to protect me. If you hadn't done that, you may not have been injured. You were hurt because you were more concerned with my safety than your own... maybe it was trying to tell me I should stay here to protect you from having to care for me."
Qui-Gon put a hand in the air to stop the vocal panic attack Obi-Wan was having. Leave it to Obi-Wan to find a way to make a bad situation worse.
He studied the boy's worried expression and said, "That may be true, but we don't know what happened before that. Maybe because you were with me, you managed to save us both earlier."
Seeing the comment had merit and could be true, Obi-Wan looked a hint less scared.
"We don't know what happened before or after that one period we saw. The Force doesn't tell us these things to make us fearful, it warns us so we may be more careful. As you put it once 'if we always crawled under a rock at the first hint of trouble we would never see the sky again'. You were right."
A disembodied voice from the bridge announced that the ship had safely landed on the outskirts. Calm settled in Obi-Wan, but there was still considerable worry.
"We've landed now, we can't start second guessing ourselves here. I need you in control and alert. Are you with me," Qui-Gon asked with a serious look.
Obi-Wan took another deep breath to calm himself. He stood straight and looked to his Master, "I'm ready, master. Let's go."
"Good," the Master smiled back. "Captain, we are disembarking now. We will call you when we have the representative or when we are ready to leave."
As they left the ship Obi-Wan took one look back, not wishing he was still aboard, just wishing something....
"Yes, sir, we'll be waiting in orbit." The captain said as the two Jedi moved away.
They raised their arms to protect their faces from the engine backwash, and watched the small red and white ship lifted off.
Back on board, the co-pilot mumbled, "I hope they know what they'redoing."
The captain turned and looked down at the planet once they reached a standard orbit, "They're Jedi. They always know what they're doing."
* * * * * * * *
The two men cautiously entered the war-torn streets of Tisinia, the Recellan capital city and found it a little strange there were not more people around, as it was they had seen maybe 20 people since arriving. The population of this city was more than 20 million. Since the planet's largest spaceport, Lonsino, was located here, many people followed because of the highly commercialized and industrialized metropolitan centre. Now the once proud stone monuments and antique buildings where either barely standing or in piles where they once stood. It was almost unthinkable all this had happened in a little over three days. When the shaky Provisional government contacted the Jedi Temple for help, Yoda immediately called his old friend and newly elected Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum. The Senate convened an emergency meeting and decided to send relief medical supplies to care for bombing victims. That had helped for about a day, but then the orbital bombings started. First they were isolated: political buildings, transport platforms,but not Lonsino. Then they became less concerned with public safety and bombed two city centers, killing over 4000 people. Once the people saw the government was falling apart, panic set in. Riots, looting, attacks, break-ins, all started. People noticed Lonsino wasn't being targeted, so hundreds of thousands started pouring into the space port for shelter. Ships were leaving every 20 minutes taking people off world. Then a call was put out that any ship leaving would be shot down. Then the violence escalated. The terrorists started an all-out offensive against the government, not caring if the people were caught in the crossfire. They started bombing random sites around the cities until there was nothing left. Most of the residents had fled, leavinga few scattered families unwilling the leave what's left of their homes.
As they walked through one of the bombed out neighborhoods, Obi-Wan stopped cold. He stared straight ahead at something, and when Qui-Gon followed his gaze, he almost lost his composure. Ahead in one of the areas of rubble they saw only the small hand of a child completely buried in the debris. He looked to his apprentice and saw the blank shock and horror. A half meter from the hand was a young woman partly visible. It looked as though she had also been buried in the rubble but managed to dig her way party out. Still buried was her right side past her waist, and her right hand was reaching for that of the child's, undoubtedly hers. Obi-Wan couldn't look any longer and turned away, taking a labored breath. Qui-Gon moved closer to him, and to his surprise the boy moved like lightning and drew his arms around the larger man in an instant. Qui-Gon instinctively held the boy as well. As Qui-Gon had warned they both felt the sense of despair even more strongly now that they were in contact with the suffering. After a few moments they separated, neither crying, just relieved that the other was there at the moment.
Qui-Gon looked down into his apprentice's eyes and asked, "Are you sure you want to continue? It will only get worse. I've dealt with this kind of thing before, it's not pleasant."
Obi-Wan was more then half tempted to take the chance to run back and call for the ship to pick him up.
Then his Jedi training took over and he came to his senses, "No master, we should stay together as backup for each other. Like you said 'it will only get worse'."
Qui-Gon could sense the indecision in him, but his voice was strong and determined. Qui-Gon was proud of him for being willing to face this at such a young age.
"Let's keep moving," Obi-Wan interrupted his Master's thoughts, "We have to find the capital and the representative so he can explain to the Senate what happened here." Obi-Wan continued.
"Yes, we must continue," Qui-Gon answered, thinking about what the main part of the city must look like. They stepped away, not turning back around, and took a new path out of the ruble of this neighborhood.
* * * * * *
It took about 2 hours to make it around all the dangerous zones and safely to the Capital Building. Strangely enough, it didn't seem to be as badly damaged as the rest of the city. Then they heard a hum coming from the building and looked closer. Somehow the people inside had rigged a deflector shield around the first level of he building. Evidently one of the techs from the hangar had gotten creative. Qui-Gon made a mental note to talk to that person. Nothing like had ever actually worked before. They could put shields around power cores, but never building, the energy drain would always be too much. Fortunately someone inside happened to be looking out a window and saw them approach. She signaled to the guards to open the shield enough to let the Jedi in. Once inside, the representative came toward them very quickly. He was a small man, no more then five feet tall, with gray, almost white haircut short. He had the most arresting green eyes and his facial features were strong but worn from the years. He was dressed in the typical elaborate deep blue robes of a man of office here. However, the decorated right shoulder of his robe was ripped slightly and a cut noticeable underneath. He had mostly likely been outside when the bombing started.
"I a Senator Alorn Wallan. Welcome to Recellan. You are the two Jedi Master Yoda sent me. A pleasure to finally meet you both," Wallan greeted in all diplomatic pleasantries.
"Senator, I am Qui-Gon Jinn, and this is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, we are here to take you to Coruscant. I wasn't aware we were bring back a Senator," Qui-Gon questioned.
"Yes, I came here two days before everything started going downhill," the Senator directed the Jedi to a meeting area. "My government believed the people would react having a member of the Senate here to oversee the problem. And it worked for a short time; however, my hands were tied. I did not have the Senate's permission to intervene ontheir behalf and my own governors weren't telling the whole story. So I decided to meet with one of the faction leaders and get his side of the story. What I heard and saw there disturbed me greatly. That is when this started to fall apart and I called for Jedi help."
The assistant to the Chief Electorate entered then, flanked by official guards in deep crimson wardrobe, their faces covered by helmets, carrying blasters. The people in the room bowed slightly at his arrival. The man was dressed similarly to the Senator but in an off white color.
He looked at them with surprise and said, "You are the Jedi?"
They nodded and bowed slightly and the man looked confused but pleased.
"I knew you were on your way here from Coruscant but I thought you would have turned back when you heard want happened here."
Then he remembered his manners, "I apologize, my name is Raflon Goranti, I am assistant to the Chief Electorate of Recellan. He sent me to find our Senator, but I am pleased to find two Jedi as well."
Qui-Gon introduced himself and Obi-Wan as before, and Gorantigraciously shook hands with both of them and nodded. Then he looked about and signaled to his guards to begin downloading important records from the main archives.
He then turned to the Jedi again, "I don't like to beso abrupt, but it is no longer safe here. Our sources tell us the terrorists have been able to hire some mercenaries to help them destroy what is left of the government here. They will be arriving soon and will most likely attack this building first. We must vacate the area." At this, the others politicians in the room began to move around gathering personal effects and weapons.
Senator Wallan looked to Assistant Goranti and said matter of factly, "We have no way to leave, all the ships in the hanger here are damaged beyond repair and no more can land since a bomb a few hours ago destroyed the hanger door controls. It would be to dangerous to try to load a ship from outside. How will we meet the Chief Electorate at the shelter?"
Qui-Gon broke in, "We have a ship waiting in orbit: however, as the Senator said, we need a hanger to load it in."
Goranti looked puzzled for a moment, then a female politician in the background pointed out, "If I may Senator, there is a hanger less then three kilometers east of here used for flight training. From what wecan read, so far it hasn't been damaged too greatly. The Jedi ship should have no problem landing there safely."
The Assistant waved his thanks to her, "Yes, I know of it. Chouncillor Alora is correct, it is large enough for a diplomatic shuttle to land in."
Then he looked concerned, "It is a treacherous route there, I'm afraid. Much of that area was heavily bombed early on. There are a few Medical units in that area trying to save as many as they can."
"You should prepare to leave," Qui-Gon said loudly enough for everyone to hear. "I will contact our ship and give them the new co-ordinates.
We will leave as soon as everyone is assembled here again." Qui-Gon walked a short distance away and took out his comlink. Obi-Wan in the meantime, helped the Senator with a shorted out system. When it came online, he joined Qui-Gon. His Master had just finished the message and received conformation. He returned his comlink to his belt and saw Obi-Wan approaching.
"I just got a look at the area we're going to be traveling through. Senator Wallan wasn't kidding when he said it was badly damaged. And they are still attacking it, trying to kill the Medical teams. This isn't going to be easy."
Qui-Gon nodded, "I suspected as much. What else did you see?"
"Nothing that could help us. There is very little shelter should they see us, and even less the closer you get to the hanger," Obi-Wan reported.
"The only good thing is that the Chief Electorate'ssheltered very close to the hanger. It's been decided we will meet there."
"Very well," Qui-Gon replied, then joined the Senator to help prepare for leaving.
* * * * * * *
In a little less then an hour the people were ready. The polictianshad changed into colors that matched the outside better then their offical robes. Everyone was ready to start the long trek to the hanger across the city. The Jedi took point, followed by the polictians who were encircled by the Chief Electorates guards. They had also brought with them the shield used on the Capital Building. Senator Wallan moved forward to speak with Qui-Gon, "It should take usa bit longer then two hours to get there if we take it slow and careful." Qui-Gon simply nodded and continued to scan the streets for possible problems or traps, while Obi-Wan kept an eye on the sky. About 15 minutes away from the Capital Building Obi-Wan pointed to movement in the sky, "Master, look. The mercenaries must have arrived," he said and signaled to the guards to be on the alert. The group moved closer to a bombed out building as protection from being seen. Suddenly without the sound of incoming fire, the Capital building burst into flames and collapsed, shooting fire in all directions. Fortunately the group was far enough away that they were not affected. Most seemed stunned as they watched it burn.
"Master, I didn't hear anything. Could it have been a bomb on the inside?" Qui-Gon watched the building burn, and wondered the samething.
When Obi-Wan asked he looked to him, "Let's hope so. I don't like the idea of weapons without sound." He then signaled for the group to continue.

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