Tangled Webs: Act II
Aftershocks

Angyl

Disclaimer: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the property of Lucasfilm Ltd.

The light brush of a gentle hand led him back to wakefulness. Blinking sleepily he took in his surroundings - an opulent room with mirrors and tapestries and silken hangings draped around above and over the massive bed on which he lay. There was an open balcony and a view of spectacular gardens. A silken robe was thrown over a large, plush chair in a small sitting area... and there was a very large man sitting looming over him next to his bed.

The large hand brushed against his cheek as a soft mental caress whispered in his mind. He recoiled quickly, slamming down mental shields by instinct alone and scrambled back against the headboard, eyes large and fearful. "Who... who are you?" he whispered, confused and frightened.

"Obi-Wan?" The large man's voice was soft, melodic and concerned. His brow had crumpled into lines of worry, and the young man fought the overwhelming urge he suddenly had to smooth those lines away with fingers or... lips.

"Your name is Obi-Wan?"

"No, Padawan, Obi-Wan is your name. Mine is Qui-Gon Jinn. I am your Master; do you not remember?"

"What's a Padawan? If you're my Master, am I a slave?" The young man - Obi-Wan - asked, even more confused than before. His head was beginning to ache terribly. Reaching up to massage his temples, his fingers came into contact with a bandage. "I've been injured?"

"Yes, Obi-Wan, you were. We were in a battle with a Sith lord; I was wounded by his saber thrust; when I came to you were lying beside me with a head wound and no sign of the Sith. You've been unconscious for three weeks; I've been very... concerned," the large... Qui-Gon replied. "And a Padawan is an apprentice, not a slave. You are a student, and I am your teacher. You're training to be a Jedi; Queen Amidala provided us this suite of rooms, the least she could do for the heroes of Naboo - or so she said. I've been your Master... your teacher since you were thirteen; you are now twenty-five," Qui-Gon continued softly.

"Why can't I remember?"

"I do not know, my Obi-Wan, I do not know. I'll go and summon the healers; maybe they can tell us what's going on. Lie back down; you are safe here." He watched as his student snuggled back down under the covers. Placing a hand lightly on Obi-Wan's forehead in a soothing manner, he used a simple mind trick to help the young man drift off. "Sleep, Obi-Wan," he commanded. Sea-blue eyes clouded over and eyelids grew heavy. Soon after Obi-Wan tumbled into slumber.

Qui-Gon sat there for long moments watching his student... his life-bonded sleep. Running a tired hand over a weary face, he stood - feeling every bit his forty-nine plus years, and left his love to sleep. Going into the common room, Qui-Gon quickly contacted the healers to tell them the latest news of Obi-Wan's condition and then sank wearily into a large comfortable chair. The room was dark, as it was well into the night hours, but he didn't turn on a light. Light would just illuminate his ravaged features. Obi-Wan couldn't remember his life, their life together. The Force would not be so cruel as that, would it?

Obi-Wan had been so close to death that Qui-Gon could actually feel the Force gathering around his beloved, preparing to accept Obi-Wan into its embrace. But Obi-Wan had fought back and survived. He'd kept the promise he'd once whispered to Qui-Gon, as they lay curled into one another after a particularly dangerous mission. 'Don't ever leave me, my Obi-Wan,' Qui-Gon had whispered almost desperately. 'I won't, Master; I promise I will be with you forever,' his love had muttered before sinking into a well-deserved slumber.

But at what cost had his love kept that promise, made long ago? "My Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon choked, finally letting loose the grief and terror that had clutched at him these past three weeks. Tears streamed unchecked down his cheeks as he let the pain and terror go. He'd had to be strong - strong for Anakin, for Amidala and for the Council. To have Obi-Wan with him and yet to lose the man that had somehow found a way into Qui-Gon's well-shielded heart... "No - by the Force, I will not let him go without the same fight that he gave to stay with me," Qui-Gon swore fervently. "We will overcome this, beloved, I swear it!"

The door chime broke him out of his dismal thoughts and heralded the healers' arrival. Perhaps they could shed some light on what was happening.

"We are unsure of what caused the amnesia, but... we have found an anomaly," Jedi Healer Destine informed Qui-Gon some time later. She and her fellow healers had spent the better part of an hour examining the sleeping Padawan, using the Force, modern medicine and technology to aid them. The others had left quietly, leaving Destine to speak with the concerned Master.

"An anomaly?" Qui-Gon asked, afraid of what he would hear next. No more, by my ancestors, I can take no more ill news, he cried mentally.

"There is a swelling along his cerebral cortex that is pressing on his memory center. We believe that the blow he received to his temple from the fight with the Sith is the cause. This would also explain the prolonged unconsciousness Padawan Kenobi has experienced. The swelling is going down even as we speak, but we do not know how much bruising will be left behind. The problem is that the human brain is exceedingly delicate and still very much a mystery to us despite all our science and control over the Force. As such I would caution strongly against bringing the Force to bear on it."

"We caution you not to attempt to restore his memories in such a way. Flooding his memory center with your version of his past will overwhelm and possibly do great damage to him. We feel his memories will return over time. The most current memories will probably be the last to surface as they are obviously painful ones. Already we sense that his long-term memories of childhood have returned. The rest will, Force willing, return with time. You must exercise patience and control, Master Jinn. Padawan Kenobi needs time and peace to heal properly, and he cannot be rushed into anything. You have a brand new Padawan again, Master, and you shall have to be very delicate with him."

"We are recommending to the Council that you both be taken off active duty and sent to the healing colony on Sellonia until Obi-Wan has recovered physically and hopefully mentally. We will recommend that you go with your Padawan because it will be worse for him if you are not there. The life-bond is still active between the two of you, even if Obi-Wan can't remember. Separating him from you when he is in such a state will do more harm than good. But again, I caution you not to mention the life-bond; also keep your mental touches to a bare minimum for the moment. When he is stronger and the injury more healed, you may begin using your teaching bond, but not before. I will apprise the healers' temple on the planet of Padawan Kenobi's condition as well as give them my recommendations."

"Now - all the Healer's insight aside, how are you, my old friend?" Her warm eyes softened as she took in Qui-Gon's haggard appearance. Her friend was taking this harder than even Xanatos' betrayal. But then, he hadn't been life-bonded to that piece of Rancor bait, and who could resist the vibrant young man that had broken through Qui-Gon's icy demeanor? If for no other reason than that, Destine would move all the heavens of her homeworld to see that Obi-Wan recovered.

"I have been... better," Qui-Gon admitted. "Tell me honestly, Destine, don't cover your answer with a healer's tone, will he recover his memory?"

"I don't know, Qui, and that is as honest as I can get. Head injuries are so hard to predict. He may never regain his memory at all but will still be able to live a normal life - all his training is instinctive now, and that which isn't can be re-taught. I also believe that he will always gravitate towards you. You are life-bonded, lovers and in love. That sort of attachment relies on emotion as much as memory. But on the other hand, he may remember everything come the morning. I don't know what else to tell you," Destine answered honestly, her heart aching for her friend.

"That you are honest with me is enough," Qui-Gon replied. "He will remember, Destine; he has to remember." Destine had never heard Qui-Gon so guilt-stricken or desperate.

"These past few weeks, the mission, the boy - I've been harsh with him, Destine. I stood before the Council and took Anakin as my Padawan before I'd even had chance to tell Obi-Wan, before I could approach him and tell him I believed he was ready for his Trials. There just wasn't time, and the boy needed protection. He... I felt an incredible wave of pain and rejection and shock over our bond before Obi-Wan shut me out completely. Then we argued about the boy, and I let him know by my tone how displeased I was at what I perceived as a lack of faith in me. It wasn't; he was just trying to understand."

"When he tried to apologize before the battle, I brushed it aside with idle words and pleasantries. But he stood by me, fought by me, protected and saved me somehow. Placing himself near death for me - even though I caused him such torment. I need him to remember, my friend, so that I can tell him how sorry I am, how much I love him... how I want him with me forever, no matter what. I want him to know that our life-bond is everything, that he is everything that is precious to me." Qui-Gon felt the tears run down his face again. He couldn't stand it if his Obi-Wan was gone, if he never forgave Qui-Gon his arrogance and blindness or the cruelty Qui-Gon had heaped on him. Qui-Gon needed his love in his life, for all his life. He was empty without his Obi-Wan.

Destine sat a moment, taking in all that Qui-Gon had confessed. This would explain Obi-Wan's reluctance to heal, to remember. "This... forgive me, my friend, but this could very well be a large part of the problem. Emotional scars mingled with his trauma - he could be suppressing that which is most painful to him, your rejection of him and your bond. You need to be gentle, Qui-Gon, and extremely patient. You cannot mention these events to him - at all! You cannot apologize or - Force help you, you cannot show him the love you wish to. It may only scar him further. He must remember on his own with no prompting - and you must be ready for the emotional backlash, for there will be one. As you said, you've hurt him. Badly."

"But I didn't reject him..." Qui-Gon began to protest.

"Qui-Gon, my foolish, stubborn, obstinate, blind friend - you stood before the Council without even sparing Obi-Wan a single moment of explanation and took another as your Padawan, while your present Padawan, your lover, was standing next to you. You shut him out, argued with him - did you even try to reach out to him on the voyage, or did you spend the majority of the time with the boy? Did you show any concern at all to Obi-Wan's well being? Did you ask how he felt on the verge of one of the most serious battles he had ever been in? Did you ask him if he was ready? Afraid? Anything?"

"No... Gods... how he must have felt. After that flash of pain he shielded himself tightly against me. I was so hurt by this I didn't even think that he could have been trying to protect himself from me. What have I done, Destine? What have I done?" The moments leading up to the battle played over and over in Qui-Gon's mind, tormenting him - damning him with the truth of his actions. He'd hurt Obi-Wan - deliberately and without remorse.

"Qui-Gon - how would he have felt if you had fallen with this still unresolved between you; how would you have felt if he had not survived?" Qui-Gon's head shot up, and the stricken look in his eyes, the sudden pallor of skin and shaking of his hands said it all.

Remorselessly she continued, "Life-bonds are not things to be taken lightly, and to reject one's life-bonded, even unintentionally - the damage you could have done is beyond measure. You've been given a second chance to make things right. Don't mess this up. You nearly destroyed the most precious gift anyone has given you - Obi-Wan's heart. It is beyond fragile, kept safe only by your love and support and the trust the two of you have - had - for one another. You've been given a second chance, my friend. One I suspect was bought for a higher price than you could possibly imagine. A price that I suspect Obi-Wan paid, willingly, gladly."

"I shouldn't tell you this; it was something that the healers were going to address with him privately, but considering... We did catch one or two of his memories from the time of the battle. He wanted to die, Qui-Gon. He went into that battle hoping to die so that you could be free to teach your 'chosen one.'"

A cry of denial escaped from Qui-Gon, as if to erase her words, but still Destine continued; her friend needed to know what he was up against.

"Then there was an image of him cradling your dying body, and then... the Ancestors spoke to him, Qui-Gon. They gave him a choice, your life or his. He said..." Tears began to fill her eyes as she allowed Obi-Wan's memory to take control of her." He said, 'Let him live, I beg you; I ask nothing for myself, no mercy, no joining with the Force. He is needed; I am not. He is my heart.' He asked for nothing, no respite, no peace, no merging with the Force. He did not think he deserved it."

Pain flowed out of Qui-Gon then. Raw, animalistic pain. He did this to Obi-Wan. He made Obi-Wan happily seek his own death. Oh, my Obi-Wan, what have I done to you, to us? I will make this up to you. I will show you just how much you are loved, how important you are to me... Oh, my Obi-Wan, what have I done?

END

  since 02-17-07

 

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