Tangled Webs: Act IV
Disclaimer: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
is the property of Lucasfilm Ltd.
"We were surprised to find you on Bandomeer, old friend," Si
Treemba commented as he gently tried to nudge Obi-Wan into eating. "You
must try the Maran fruit salad. It's one of our own recipes." The
Obi-Wan Kenobi that sat before him now was a pale shell of the man he knew.
Gone was that sparkle, the dry wit, and the wicked humor... the will to
live. What had wrought this awful change?
Obi-Wan automatically took a bite of the dish, not really tasting it but
trying to please his friend. He'd had no idea of where he was going when he
left Sellonia and his... But he'd somehow ended up on Bandomeer. How
ironic, he thought acidly, that I should end up where it all began.
He'd almost turned around and boarded the next transport to Force knew
where, when Si Treemba had spotted him. His friend had insisted that Obi-Wan
come home with him.
"We saw a Ben Kenobi on the manifest but did not realize it was you.
We are so used to hearing you being called Obi-Wan."
"He doesn't exist any more, Si Treemba," came the hard, flat
reply. "I'm just plain old Ben Kenobi now - who I've always been meant
to be." And it hurt. Gods how it still hurt!
"So you are a Jedi now?" Si Treemba persisted, knowing full
well there was something terribly wrong with his friend and hoping that
perhaps he could help Obi-Wan at last. Repay an old debt of friendship.
"No. I left. I didn't belong," Ben replied, cold and dead
inside. "Forgive me, Si Treemba, but I'm still exhausted from my trip
and old injuries. I think I'll turn in." Climbing wearily to his feet,
Ben bid a melancholy goodnight to his friend and retired to his rooms to
face yet another sleepless night of torment.
"Not good... This is not good at all. But what to do? His heart
cries out to be Jedi, and his soul cries out for his Master. Yet if we
interfere in such a delicate matter, we may very well lose our dearest
friend. Oh, what tangled webs people weave around their lives," Si
Treemba whispered to the night air. There must be a way to help... he just
had to think of it.
Over the next month Obi-Wan - Ben - slowly regained his strength. He
began training again, though he never picked up a practice sword. He'd left
his lightsaber behind when he'd left his old life. No sense reopening the
barely healed emotional scars. His body was weapon enough, and the training
from his past life served him well in that regard. He learned how to use a
blaster though, just in case.
He had stayed with Si Treemba at first but by a strange twist of fate was
offered a position he couldn't turn down and quarters in an opulent
household. Ben knew he'd never be a farmer, and he didn't want to go back to
his family on Corellia; that would be the first place people would look for
him - if they bothered to look for him at all. One day, while in the market
with his friend, a tremor in the Force alerted him to danger, and before
he'd had time to think of it, Ben was scooping up a child in danger of
getting run over by a speeder going full tilt. He gave the child back to the
shaken nanny and had left the market quickly. That night he was paid a visit
by the father of the little girl he'd rescued.
Damar Indigor was the Ionian ambassador to Bandomeer. He informed Ben
that there had been numerous attempts made on his life because he refused to
deal unfairly with the Bandomeerans, despite what the Trade Federation
wished. He was an honest man, but with the way the Galactic Senate was under
Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, it seemed honesty was no longer a virtue but
something to be punished. Recently, however, there had been attempts made
against his family too, and this worried him.
His nanny had informed him of Ben's actions and the amazing speed and
skill he had displayed. Would Ben perhaps consider becoming a protector to
the ambassador's children? They were the truly vulnerable ones. Damar didn't
mind if something happened to him; he was old enough to understand the risks
he took. But his children should not be made to suffer.
It was a plea Ben could not resist, so deeply ingrained was his training.
He agreed to assist the ambassador until a trusted replacement could be
found on Ionus. He tried to explain to the ambassador that he had no
previous experience, but his excuses were brushed aside.
Ben's things were quickly packed, and he was installed in a set of
private rooms in the ambassador's residence shortly thereafter. He would
meet the children in the morning, Damar promised him, and would merely have
to ensure their well being. Due to the scare of today the children would be
staying at home for the next few days, which would also allow them time to
get to know Ben and Ben time to know them. It all happened so quickly that
Ben barely had time to catch his breath, let alone wonder if he was doing
the correct thing.
"Yes, this is Damar Indigor, Ionian Ambassador to Bandomeer. I need
to speak with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn... Yes, it is urgent... No, I do not
wish to leave a message... Oh very well... Tell him... tell him I know where
he can find something he's lost... Yes, that's what I said... Thank
you." Damar delicately ended the link lest he throw the hapless piece
of equipment across the room. He just prayed that the message would be
delivered to Master Jinn.
Damar's conscience twinged a bit at the thought that he was deceiving the
nice young man who'd saved his daughter's life, but he owed Qui-Gon Jinn a
life debt, and he intended to pay it. He would keep young Obi-Wan Kenobi
safe and occupied until Master Jinn showed up to claim him and in doing so
would fulfill a promise he'd made long ago.
Many years ago during a time of unrest on Ionus, a much younger Jedi
Knight named Qui-Gon Jinn rescued a much younger Damar Indigor and his
family from certain death. His braid hadn't even been shorn off a standard
year when he'd come to Ionus to help settle the fighting and had found
himself the recipient of a life debt, one he had not wanted.
Over the years Damar had kept an eye on Qui-Gon Jinn's rise through the
Jedi ranks. He was determined to see that the honor debt was paid to the
brave Jedi who'd done so much for his family. Discovering that the young man
who'd saved his daughter was none other than Master Jinn's Padawan Learner
gave him the means to repay. Damar just hoped he wasn't stepping into events
he would have been better staying out of.
"He has nightmares, Daddy," Lyria told Damar a week later.
"Who does, my precious?" the ambassador asked absently. He was
reading some correspondence in his office, and his daughter was keeping him
company for the moment.
"Mister Ben. I hear him sometimes, crying and yelling. Then I see
him leave his room, and he always looks like he's been crying. He goes to
the garden and just sits there. But I always get too sleepy to see when he
comes back in, so I don't know when he does."
"Do you hear what he says, my precious?" Damar asked with
trepidation. He might have been hasty in contacting Qui-Gon after all.
"He says Master and why don't you want me any more. He's very sad
the next day after having a nightmare. I think his heart is hurting, like
yours was when Mommy died," the young girl said solemnly, cuddling in
her father's lap.
Oh no, what have I interfered with? Damar wondered, horrified at
what he might have done.
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn cloaked himself in the night, drawing the Force
tightly around him so he'd be undetectable, as he stepped of the Jedi
Transport, which had brought him to Bandomeer. He'd cursed himself every
manner of fool when he'd finally got Ambassador Indigor's message. He should
have known this would be where Obi-Wan would go. Back to the beginning -
completing his circle of pain.
My Obi-Wan, I've hurt you this much, that you would come back here to
lose yourself? Qui-Gon's heart ached. He couldn't help but admire his
life-bonded though, despite his personal pain. I always knew you were
strong, love, but still I am surprised at just how strong you are. Coming
here to face your demons... such will, such courage. I am proud of you, my
Obi-Wan. I will find a way to convince you of this, of how much I
love you, Qui-Gon swore.
Moving wraith-like through the streets of Bandor, Qui-Gon reached his
first destination. Forewarned was forearmed, and who better to tell him of
Obi-Wan's condition than an old friend. He knocked softly on the door. A few
seconds later it slid open. "We were hoping it might be you. Come in.
We have much to speak of."
"He calls himself Ben now and refuses to talk of his old life,"
Si Treemba informed the Jedi Master sadly. "He says he is not a Jedi -
that he is what he should always have been. He guards the lives of
Ambassador Indigor's children. He is very good with them. Yet, yet he is not
the person he used to be. He is cloaked in sorrow now and pain."
"Ben has lost a great deal of weight and looks as if he hasn't had a
solid night's sleep since arriving here. He is slowly coming apart at the
seams, Master Qui-Gon, but he refuses to see it." Si Treemba paused and
looked Qui-Gon over carefully. "Forgive us for saying so, Master Qui-Gon,
but you don't look so well yourself."
"We were both gravely wounded not so long ago, my young friend, and
we are both suffering from being separated from each other," Qui-Gon
murmured, still trying to accept what Si Treemba said. Obi-Wan was denying
his past and his identity? He believed he was no longer Jedi? This was going
to be even more difficult than he had first imagined.
"Why should being separated cause you to look like this?" Si
Treemba asked, perplexed.
"We are life-bonded, Si Treemba. Although separation, even death,
will not end our lives, there are repercussions to one or both of the
life-bonded pair. Physical and mental repercussions which we are both
experiencing. It is rather like Spice withdrawal," Qui-Gon explained
absently. How easy it would be to let go his mantle of control and let their
bond re-connect. Both he and Obi-Wan would recover from their separation
immediately, but Obi-Wan would know he was here - something Qui-Gon was
loathe to have happen just yet.
"Life-bonded? Obi - we mean Ben never told us..." Si Treemba
trailed off. The stark pain that his thoughtless comment caused was apparent
on Qui-Gon's face.
"Because he thought I severed the bond," Qui-Gon whispered
wrenchingly. "We had a... misunderstanding. One that I will find a way
to rectify," Qui-Gon swore - more as a comfort to himself than to
alleviate Si Treemba's worry.
Qui-Gon bid goodnight to Si Treemba a short time after. It took a
considerable amount of willpower, but he turned away from the siren call of
his life-mate and procured quarters for himself in a local inn. He was so
close and yet... he suspected that Obi-Wan would bolt upon seeing him. So
much hurt. Never again would he assume anything where Obi-Wan was concerned.
Never again would he take his beloved for granted.
"Master! No, don't do this!" Ben cried out as he was thrust
into consciousness. Running his hands through his damp hair, Ben's fingers
caught on his braid. It was the only thing he hadn't been able to shed. It
was his sackcloth and ashes, the constant reminder of his failure. His
No, damnit! He hadn't failed. He'd been failed. But had he? Qui-Gon
could very well have been hurting from Obi-Wan's perceived lack of faith...
and he knew how focused Qui-Gon became when he thought he was right. If he
truly believed the child was the 'chosen one'.
But why did he have to abandon me to follow his great and glorious
quest to train the boy. Why couldn't I have been part of that dream? Wasn't
I good enough? Ben thought, despairingly.
Slipping out of bed and out into the night, Ben wandered the garden
aimlessly for a while before sitting on the cold stone bench that had become
his most frequented haunt. Before the bench was a little pond, with a
fountain in the center. The lulling sound of the water had helped him slip
into a light trance many times before, but tonight he was too unsettled.
There was something... out there, beyond the garden walls... something that
he couldn't quite grasp on to, an elusive, ghostly presence that seemed to
weigh heavily on his mind. Ben tried to clear his thoughts, concentrate on
the moment... but introspection beckoned.
How had he ended up here, at this crossroads in his life? Where had the
path gone so wrong? How should he go on? How could he set himself on the
right path again, before it was too late, before the darkness began to hunt
him? The moon cast a reflection in the pool, silent sentinel to Ben's inner
struggles, its cold fire and ghostly light illuminating unworthy truths. He had
failed - failed himself... and Qui-Gon.
The ugly truth was that Ben had given up. Given up on himself, on Qui-Gon,
on their love. He'd taken the easy way out - and sought his own death. When
that hadn't worked, he'd hidden behind a wall of forgetfulness to bury the
pain within. When that too failed, he had blamed Qui-Gon for his own
failings and had run away, like a coward or a petulant child. It was time to
grow up. To face his failings and hope that Qui-Gon could forgive him, hope
that he could forgive himself.
It was time for Ben to well and truly consign his childhood to the past.
He was Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Apprentice, Padawan Learner and Life-Bonded to
Master Qui-Gon Jinn. It was time to be the 'man' he always informed his
Master he'd become. Accept his failings and his flaws - accept Qui-Gon's
failing and flaws, and heal. It was time to go home.