“Did you hear?”
“Hear what?” Feemor lowered his datapad just enough to give his brother-padawan an annoyed glare. “And don’t barge into my room like that! I think we agreed on our bedrooms being private, hadn’t we?”
“Doesn’t matter”, Xanatos said, flopping down on his older brother-padawan’s bed. “Not now. It’s Qui-Gon.”
“Oh Force, what has he done? Has he adopted another bizarre creature?”
“Sort of.” Xanatos shrugged. “I just got a message from him. He got himself a new Padawan, and somehow already dragged him through trouble even though he hasn’t even taken him on officially before the council.”
Feemor sighed in relief. At least it wasn’t another cannibalistic plant. “Really? I thought he said he didn’t want another one?”
“So did I. But apparently there’s still such a thing as wonders in this galaxy.”
Feemor snorted. “I’m sure that he would not call it a wonder.”
“No, he’d call it a surprising turn of events due to the will of the Force.”
“Something like that.” Feemor nodded. “So, who is it? Our new brother-padawan, I mean.”
“I don’t know, our dear former Master wasn’t very explicit in his message.” Xanatos let out a long breath. “He just wrote that he has a new brother for us to meet – “A human this time” – and that they both encountered trouble on Bandomeer, Pindar and Gala.”
Feemor rolled his eyes. “Why am I even surprised by this? After all those years?”
Xanatos snorted out a laugh. “Force, if only I knew… He always seems to find another way to do it.”
“Seems like it.” Feemor ran one hand through his hair. “Did he tell you when he’d be back?”
“Today”, Xanatos answered almost immediately. “21st hour.”
Feemor checked his chrono. “Two standard hours left till then. I do suppose you agree with me that we should go and meet him and our new brother-padawan when they arrive?”
“Alright.” Feemor picked up his datapad again. “Well, if you don’t mind, I‘d like to finish my book now. And close the door.”
Xanatos mumbled something into a non-existent beard, then stood up and left the room, leaving Feemor to his reading.
Two hours later, the two of them were waiting on the landing platform for their former Master’s transport to land. Qui-Gon stepped out first, looking a bit tired, but otherwise alright and just the same as always. His face lit up with a smile when he saw his two former students.
“Come”, he told someone inside of the ship, and then a short, thin boy with dirtied clothes and short-cropped ginger hair stepped out and beside him. He looked shy and unsure of himself, his shoulders were pulled up and he wasn’t looking directly at them, more at their chests.
“Obi-Wan”, Qui-Gon said softly, poking the boy in the side. The boy looked up obediently. His eyes were of a remarkable shade of green-grey-tinted blue.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi”, Qui-Gon said. “Please meet my two former Padawans, Knight Feemor Allie and Healer Xanatos DuCrion.”
Obi-Wan bowed, which let Xanatos to let out a groan. “Oh no, another boot-licker like Fee?”, he asked. “C’mere, Obi-Wan, I want to hug my new brother!”
Rather reluctantly, Obi-Wan let the older man pull him into a hug.
“He’s a bit shy, isn’t he?” Xanatos grinned. “You’ll have to get used to hugs, Obi-Wan, because I am quite a hugger. Attachment back or forth.”
“It’s true, he’s like a clingy monkey sometimes.” Feemor smirked. “Now let the poor boy go already, Xan! That’s enough.”
Qui-Gon smiled to himself. He had hoped that his older boys would like Obi-Wan, which seemed to be the case so far.
“Alright, boys, we’ll go and make Obi-Wan’s padawanship official, but I’m sure we’ll meet again soon enough?”
“Obviously”, Xanatos said. “That boy’s chronically under-cuddled, and as the very responsible Healer that I am, I will make sure that this issue is taken care of.”
Obi-Wan’s ears turned bright red and he seemed to shrink in on himself. Xanatos’ grin faltered and he changed to a more sincere tone of voice. “Hey, I didn’t mean to attack you like that. If you have boundaries, I will accept them, alright? I’m just so happy that old fool finally got himself a new Padawan, he needed one, it was about time. I am a bit overenthusiastic, please excuse that.”
“It’s alright.” It was the first time Obi-Wan spoke. He had a soft, slightly accented voice, a pleasant voice. If it stayed like that, he would make an excellent negotiator just by using his voice, Feemor thought. “I will have to get used to it though.”
“Good. If either of us is… too much, just say it. Okay?”
Obi-Wan nodded and even gave Xanatos a small timid smile, then let Qui-Gon lead him away. They had an appointment with the Council after all.
“He wanted to… he was willing to let himself be blown up to safe the others?!”
Feemor couldn’t believe it.
“He was.” Qui-Gon sighed. “At that moment I knew that I had made a mistake by rejecting him earlier.”
“Yeah, would have been a kriffing huge mistake”, Xanatos mumbled. “I can’t believe they were alright with him being shipped off to the AgriCorps even though he hadn’t aged out yet. That was not fair…”
“No, it wasn’t. And I wasn’t fair to him either.” Qui-Gon ran one hand over his face. “To think I almost lost him… before I even had him… I can be rather stupid sometimes.”
“What, you’ve only noticed that now?”, Xanatos teased, then looked over to the sofa where the newest addition to their little lineage family was curled up, fast asleep and wrapped into a blanket. Only the spiky ginger hair and a pale freckled forehead looked out from beneath it. A grey furry creature with long floppy ears lay on his stomach, snoring softly.
“I think he’s a bit self-conscious”, Qui-Gon said slowly. “I feel like he’ll need a bit of help accepting that he’s worth it… I fear he sees himself as not enough, which is partially my fault…”
“We’ll help him”, Feemor said confidently. “Of course we will. He’ll be a great Jedi.”
“He will.” Qui-Gon sighed. “Alright, I think we all should call it a day.”
“We should.” Xanatos stood up. “But believe me, I will cuddle him to death. He needs it.”
“Just don’t attack him with it.”
The following months, Qui-Gon learned to appreciate Obi-Wan. He had already learned that the boy, whilst he was headstrong and stubborn, was also very eager to get better at things, very eager to study and learn. Qui-Gon had seen him fight, and he had noticed that Obi-Wan fought with more than just a little bit of anger and also fear, which was what he taught him to let go of first. Then, after about two months, he decided to ask Xanatos for help. Ever since he had come close to falling, Xanatos had picked up a few techniques to keep his emotions at bay, even though he was always full to the brim with it them. Qui-Gon was sure that he could help Obi-Wan with that very same issue.
And his plan worked out, much to Qui-Gon’s delight. Obi-Wan’s fighting style improved quickly, as did his management of emotions.
There was a major setback after the Melida/Daan episode. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan had to re-learn trusting each other again, and Obi-Wan felt like he needed to prove himself worthy even more now than before. Worthy of being a Jedi, worthy of being Qui-Gon’s Padawan, worthy of being regarded as Feemor’s and Xanatos’ brother… the latter two made sure to get those thoughts out of his head as quickly as possible, telling Obi-Wan that he was their brother no matter what and did not need to prove himself over and over again. Obi-Wan still tried his best to do just that. In the following years, he didn’t only perfect his saber-wielding and Soresu techniques, he also learned roughly thirty different languages and became quite the negotiator himself, with a quicker and wittier silver tongue than his Master’s. Qui-Gon was proud of him, very proud, just as he was proud of Xanatos and Feemor. One of his students was a Knight, another was a Healer and the third would surely become a Knight as well when his time came. Together, they made quite a nice little family, as far as being a family was compatible with the no-attachments-rule. Their family of four was expanded by a collection of plants that Qui-Gon had picked up on various planets, and by the only animal creature Qui-Gon had been allowed to keep permanently as a pet, and only because (not that he would ever admit it) Mace Windu had taken a liking in it. It was a yore, a four-legged animal with round hooves and ruffled grey fur and long, floppy ears that went down far enough that the tips were dragged over the floor whenever the small thing walked.
For quite a while, everything was fine in their family, perfect even.
But then came Naboo.
“Did you hear?”, Xanatos asked, barging into Feemors bedroom in their small shared flat.
Xanatos handed Feemor a datapad. Feemor read, then gasped, dropping the device to the floor.
“No”, he managed to choke out. Xanatos nodded. “I just got this from Master Windu. It was too late for him… they couldn’t help him, he’s been stabbed by that Sith there…”
Feemor squeezed his eyes shut and took a shaky breath. “Obi-Wan?”
“Alive. He killed the Sith.” Xanatos bit down on his lower lip. “He’s in shock, of course… We need to fetch him and that desert-planet-boy. Master Windu and a few more leave for Naboo with the new chancellor, we can go with them.”
Feemor nodded. “When?”
“Fifteen standard minutes.”
Feemor nodded again, then wrapped his arms around his brother and buried his face in his shoulder. They stayed like this for a moment, then got ready. For the whole ride on the ship from Corusant to Naboo, they stayed side by side, hands clasped tightly, shoulders touching. Touch, attachment, being sure of the other being right there, grounded them and helped them not to collapse and to stay strong instead. Because they had to – for each other, and for Obi-Wan.
The same day, while the sun set and the council room was flooded by red and golden light, Obi-Wan was made a knight and declared that he would take Anakin Skywalker – the boy Qui-Gon had believed to be the Chosen One, the boy he had wanted to train, the boy he had picked over Obi-Wan – as his Padawan.
“Master Yoda, with all due respect”, he said, when the small green grand-master refused to allow it. “I gave Qui-Gon my word, and I will be training Anakin. Without the Council’s approval if I must. I’ll leave the planet and take him with me.”
“Hmpf.” Yoda tapped the floor with his gimmer stick. “Qui-Gon’s defiance, I sense in you. Need that, you do not.”
“No, what I need is to fulfil the dying wish of the man who took me as a Padawan when no-one else wanted me.” For the first time in a long long while, Obi-Wan’s voice trembled with anger, grief and other emotions he desperately tried to keep below the surface. “The dying wish of the man who gave me a family here amongst all the other Jedi, the man who taught me almost everything I know. The man I couldn’t safe. What I need is to do this, to train Anakin. For Qui-Gon’s sake and for his sake. Anakin’s. If I won’t train him, and no other Jedi will, where will he end? Will he become a Sith then, or a raging Force-sensitive being without any control over what he can do? Is that what you want?”
“Agree with you, the Council does. Still, agree with them, I do not.”
“I’d hate to repeat myself, Master”, Obi-Wan said. “But with or without your or the Council’s approval, I will…”
“Fine. Your apprentice, Skywalker will be. Lose you, we cannot.” Yoda turned to Xanatos and Feemor. “Help Obi-Wan, you will.”
“Obviously.” Xanatos crossed his arms in front of his chest. There was no way in Sith-hell he or Feemor would leave Obi-Wan alone with this task. No kriffing way.
Obi-Wan managed to stay calm for the rest of the day. When night fell and Qui-Gon’s body was burned so that his ashes could be entombed later on, Obi-Wan placed his Padawan braid on the pyre and then took his place next to his brothers, with the little boy, Anakin, on his other side. He stayed calm as the pyre was lit aflame, and as he promised Anakin that he would become a Jedi. He stayed calm through the conversations with the other Jedi after the funeral, and he stayed calm until he, Anakin, Xanatos and Feemor had reached the old quarters he and Qui-Gon had shared for the last twelve years. It was only when the door closed that he broke down, fell onto his knees and started crying, all the feelings he had bottled up inside him now spilling out of him, his carefully crafted mask of the collected and serene Jedi falling apart and crushed into fine dust that dissolved into nothingness. Feemor and Xanatos fell to their knees beside him, wrapping their arms around him and holding him close as sobs racked his ever-so-skinny frame.
“We should go to bed”, Feemor mumbled at some point. “Xan?”
Xanatos nodded, carefully pulled Obi-Wan to his feet and lead him towards one of the bedrooms – not his own, but Qui-Gon’s, since that one had the larger bed. They would need a large bed this night, they didn’t all fit into Obi-Wan’s.
“Mister Feemor, Sir?”, Anakin asked softly. “Where should I go?”
“You will sleep with us”, Feemor said. “I’m sure we’ll all need the comfort tonight.”
“Will Obi-Wan be alright?”, Anakin ask. “He… he’s so sad. He feels so terribly horribly sad…”
“I understand.” Feemor nodded, knelt down in front of the boy and looked him deep in the eyes. “There’s one thing you need to know about Obi-Wan, especially since he’ll be your Master. He used to let his emotions control him, and now, he tries to keep them away at all times. Sometimes, that is too much for him, and he breaks down. Xan and I, we try our best to help him so that doesn’t happen too often, but Obi-Wan has… he has a hard time opening up.”
“Okay.” Anakin thought about that for a moment. “I understand, I think. He’s like a bottle with a vacuum, and if no-one pulled out the cork every now and then, he will explode.”
Feemor smiled. “Yes, that’s about right. And we need to pull out that cork sometimes, by comforting him. Alright? Can you do that?”
“Good. Now, let’s go to sleep.”
Together, they went over to the bedroom. Xanatos and Obi-Wan were already in bed, Xanatos holding Obi-Wan close. The younger man was shaking and there were new tears swelling up in his eyes. Feemor and Anakin crawled under the covers, and the four of them curled up together and held each other, arms and legs and backs and chests pressed against each other. In the dark, so close to each other, they all broke apart a bit more, all of them giving into their sadness, crying and sobbing and trembling, falling asleep hours later, exhausted and hurting, but also relieved and comforted by their brothers around them.
Red shields that stood between him and his beloved Master and that red-and-black Zabrak Sith.
Shields as red as the rings around the golden eyes and as red as the blades of the Sith’s saber.
Red as the wound that was immediately cauterized by the saber that had caused it in the first place.
Red as the blood that covered Qui-Gon’s lips as he took his last breaths, spoke his last words.
Then, suddenly, he was falling, falling down the reactor shaft…
then it was the mining platform of Bandomeer, but this time no rope saved him, and no Master Jinn came to rescue him. Dark shadows that surrounded him, and pain and grief and… and… screaming. Screaming from far, far away…
“Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan, wake up!”
“Obi-Wan, it’s alright, it’s a dream, just a dream!”
Obi-Wan opened his eyes and found himself in his Master’s… his late Master’s… bed, gasping for air and surrounded by his brothers who all looked at him worriedly.
“Obi-Wan?”, Anakin asked. His eyes were wide and bright with fear, and his lower lip trembled. “Are you alright?”
Obi-Wan sniffed, then let out a small broken noise. “No.”
“That’s alright. It was to be expected.” Feemor pulled Obi-Wan into a sitting position and against his chest, running one hand through his short spiky hair. “Calm down, you’re safe now. Breathe.”
“Do you need Temple?”, Xanatos asked. Obi-Wan managed a nod, and Xanatos stood up and left the room.
“What is Temple?”, Anakin asked, scooting closer to Obi-Wan and Feemor and cuddling against Obi-Wan’s side.
“A friend”, Feemor said, not quite paying attention, he was too focussed on getting Obi-Wan to stop hyperventilating.
Xanatos returned, in his arms a tiny, chubby creature with long ears and ruffled fur.
“Here”, he said softly. Obi-Wan held out his arms, similar to a child reaching for a stuffed animal, and pulled the yore to his chest, burying his nose in his fur and letting out a strangled sob before taking a shaky breath.
“There.” Xanatos crawled back into bed and settled next to Anakin, pulling the boy onto his lab. “Go back to sleep, Obi-Wan. You too, Anakin, Fee.”
“You too, Xan”, Feemor replied, but lowered himself onto the mattress, pulling Obi-Wan down. Obi-Wan’s arms were tightly, though not too tightly, wrapped around Temple, the yore. It didn’t take more than ten standard minutes for him and the others to fall asleep. They all weren’t alright, they wouldn’t be for a while, they needed to find a way to cope, to release their sadness and grief into the Force, but for tonight, they would allow themselves to grief and cry and hold each other, finding comfort in their closeness. For tonight, it was just them, their slightly new but also the same family, four brothers and a yore, connected through their bonds to Qui-Gon and to each other.
No, they really weren’t alright. But they would be. Given time.