Chapter 1: Prologue
The fallout after we ended is what demolished me. - Unknown
The door hissed shut, effectively cutting off the sounds from Jedi conversing as they traveled the hallway to their destinations. The common room was quiet. No one was there aside from Obi-Wan. Not that there should have been anyone else there, because for the first time, Obi-Wan had quarters of his own like a proper knight. Even so, he was used to sharing rooms with Qui-Gon, and he knew it would be a few weeks before he stopped expecting someone else to be there. He reminded himself that this was normal now; even if he wasn’t somewhere in the Temple with his new Padawan, Qui-Gon wouldn’t have been here anyway.
Obi-Wan leaned against the door, glancing about the room as he took everything in. His right hand twitched upwards, reaching for a braid that was no longer there. He clenched his hand, anger and betrayal flooding through him - again - before he inhaled and exhaled slowly, allowing the emotions to flow into the Force. He would have to wait until later to truly examine how he felt. Right now, he set his mind to finding his few belongings a place in his quarters, despite having lived in them for a few weeks.
It took a few minutes before he actually moved, though, having been too absorbed in deflecting his emotions. Slowly, he made his way to his room and stood in the middle as he tried to figure out where to begin. Not that he had many possessions, since the Jedi Code forbade having them.
Most of his belongings were clothing, save for some bathroom necessities, so it wouldn’t take long to unpack and hopefully take his mind off of the unsettling thoughts clouding his mind. Grabbing a bag, he carefully began to hang his clothing in the simple closet, counting each item and taking care so they wouldn’t wrinkle. When his bag was empty, he frowned. He was short one cloak, having been too distracted while hurriedly packing to realize he was missing one. Obi-Wan sighed and closed his eyes upon realizing where it most likely was.
Qui-Gon’s room, in the quarters Obi-Wan used to share with him. Obi-Wan had left it there after the first time he had slept with Qui-Gon the night before they’d been sent to Naboo to negotiate with the Trade Federation during the blockade, and now it was likely that it would be the only time.
He flopped backwards onto the bed and stared blankly up at the ceiling. It had only been a short few months ago that he and Qui-Gon had begun a romantic relationship, despite hesitancy on both of their parts, and Obi-Wan had been looking forward to exploring that relationship for his remaining time as a Padawan.
Unfortunately, that time had been shorter than he’d thought. There wouldn’t even be the time to acclimate to not having their training bond. Obi-Wan was newly Knighted and entirely on his own. Despair crawled through him, clogging his throat and making it difficult to breathe. He was drowning in it, feelings of worthlessness and betrayal sweeping over him. Obi-Wan lurched upright and gasped for air. His hands clutched desperately at his throat, and tears sprang to his eyes.
Why had Qui-Gon tossed him aside? Hadn’t Qui-Gon initially refused to train Obi-Wan because the Master had thought Obi-Wan too dangerous? And now, he had taken Anakin as a Padawan even though everyone else proclaimed him to be a danger. Was it because Anakin was supposedly the Chosen One? Did that make the difference?
With a heavy groan, Obi-Wan sat up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, and buried his face in his hands. Whatever the case, there was no way that he was going to be able to make himself go back to his former quarters to retrieve his cloak, not with all of the memories there. However, Obi-Wan knew that Qui-Gon would soon realize the cloak didn’t belong to him, and what if Qui-Gon brought it back? What should Obi-Wan do then? Try to play it off as though nothing had happened, or use the opportunity to talk to Qui-Gon to get some damn answers. A bitter laugh echoed in his empty room at the fleeting thought that perhaps Qui-Gon would give the cloak to Anakin, just like he’d given everything else that belonged to Obi-Wan to the boy. Obi-Wan laughed derisively until there were tears in his eyes and his stomach and sides hurt, eventually sobering as he realized that he was at a crossroads and needed to make a decision.
As much as it pained him, Obi-Wan knew that it would be better for himself in the long run if he cut off all contact with Qui-Gon. Not that it mattered since he’d seen his former master once in the two weeks they’d been back to Coruscant, and that one time was Obi-Wan’s knighting ceremony, just a few short moments earlier. Qui-Gon was simply too busy with his new padawan. It also didn’t help that Obi-Wan had immediately moved to his own quarters upon his return. It had been under the pretense of allowing Anakin the chance to settle in quickly, but in reality, Obi-Wan couldn’t stand the thought of seeing Qui-Gon any more than was necessary.
Betrayal and anger still simmered below the surface of Obi-Wan’s supposed calm, and he knew that Qui-Gon would be able to see right through him. As it was, Obi-Wan had heavily shielded himself after the battle with Maul on Theed when it became apparent that Qui-Gon was still determined to have Anakin as his padawan. But Obi-Wan had rarely shielded himself during his years as Qui-Gon’s padawan, and Qui-Gon had to have noticed the difference, yet he’d said nothing. Even when Obi-Wan had been trembling after his master had nearly been impaled by Maul, Qui-Gon had remained tight-lipped. Yes, Obi-Wan knew they were Jedi and sometimes risks were taken that led to death, but he’d never fought an opponent as strong and as skilled as the Sith, and having to stand and watch as Qui-Gon fought him alone was torture. Just one word or a simple touch would have been enough to settle Obi-Wan’s nerves after the fight, but he’d been given nothing.
Qui-Gon didn’t care. Perhaps he’d never cared, and he’d only agreed to take Obi-Wan as a Padawan out of honor or duty since Obi-Wan had helped him on Bandomeer. And now Qui-Gon could train the Chosen One.
Oh, what an honor that must be, especially after training someone like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Qui-Gon apparently couldn’t get rid of Obi-Wan fast enough, as he’d not even been Knighted and Qui-Gon had already been thinking of his next Padawan.
Obi-Wan gave himself a quick shake. This train of thought was not doing him any favors. Slowly, he opened himself to the Force and let the emotions go, but the peace that should have come stayed away. All he was left with was a persistent ache and a hole where the bond used to be.
Chapter 2: Atelophobia
This is now eleven years after the prologue.
Atelophobia: the fear of imperfection, of not being enough
Obi-Wan should have stayed in bed.
That was a much better alternative than where he was now, locked in combat on a desert planet that reminded him too much of Tatooine. He darted quickly behind a large rock, droid blaster shots zooming overhead. Panting heavily, he tried to regulate his breathing. He’d been fighting non-stop for what seemed like hours, drenched in sweat, ankle throbbing from when he’d twisted it earlier while attempting to dodge an unexpected barrage of blaster shots.
“General!” Cody yelled. “Behind you!”
Startled, Obi-Wan turned just in time to deflect a shot right back at the droid. “Thanks, Cody!”
There was no reply until Cody managed to close the distance, leaning down to peer at the Jedi’s face. “Are you all right, Sir? You don’t look very good.”
“Ah.” Obi-Wan waved a hand dismissively, still fighting to keep his breathing even, then out of habit, tugged on his gloves to ensure that they were secure. “Yes, yes, I’m fine. And here I thought the battle-ravaged look was all the rage. How are the troops?” He could sense Cody’s concern, but the clone said nothing, knowing from past experiences that Obi-Wan would only brush aside any talk about himself or his injuries.
“We’ve lost twenty-four clones so far, and we’re stuck at this position. There are droids up above that we can’t get a clear shot at, droids in front of us, and more droids approaching from behind.”
“Fantastic news, as always, Cody.” Obi-Wan sighed and opened his comm link, but only static was there. “Blast, they must be running interference. We need backup.”
Cody nodded grimly as he took careful aim at a droid advancing on them. “You don’t need to tell me that, General.”
“I’ll do what I can from the front and try to reach the droids at the top of the cliff. If I can take them out, then we can advance forward and try to find where they’re blocking our communications from.” The Jedi shifted to his feet but remained crouched down. No sense in making himself a target quite yet.
“I’ll divide the men between watching our front and back.”
“Good.” Carefully, Obi-Wan peered over the stone, taking note of the ledges jutting from the left side of the cliff walls. He could make use of them to get to the top, take down those droids, then use the Force to propel himself to the right side, which had a far steeper climb. “Well, here goes everything.”
With that, he leaped over the rock, his ‘saber near constantly deflecting shots as he made his way to the first small ledge. There was just enough space for him to plant his left foot there and push off to the next foothold. Everything was going well until one of the footholds broke under his weight, and he fell a few feet before he was able to catch a crack in the rock with his left hand, barely managing to keep a grip on his ‘saber. Wincing in pain at the torn skin on his hand, Obi-Wan focused and used the Force to launch himself up to the top of the cliff.
From there, everything was a blur as Obi-Wan parried, deflected, slashed, and evaded. Once the left side was clear of droids, he jumped to the other side, his right ankle protesting as he landed and rolled almost immediately to avoid blaster shots. It seemed like hours passed before the last droid fell, but in reality it had likely only been fifteen minutes at most. Panting heavily, Obi-Wan turned to the edge of the cliff to wave Cody and the men through when a wave of darkness pervaded the area.
“No,” Obi-Wan breathed, and in the next second he yelled down to Cody, “Get out of here, now!” He whirled around, already on the defensive, to face Dooku. Fantastic, he thought grimly. Dooku was a strong opponent when Obi-Wan was fully rested, so how much more trouble would Obi-Wan have when fighting against him now, when he was exhausted from battle already?
But there was no helping it. If he stepped aside, Dooku would slaughter everyone, and all of their progress would go up in flames. He would just have to hold Dooku off long enough for Cody to break the communication interference and radio for backup.
Hopefully there was someone close enough who would be able to take on Dooku.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Dooku said as he circled around, his red ‘saber already powered up. “I’d been wondering which Jedi I would have to face today.”
“I suppose it’s your unlucky day, Dooku.”
“Or my lucky day.” Dooku’s gaze flitted down to Obi-Wan’s ankle, which he’d subconsciously been favoring.
Gritting his teeth, Obi-Wan tightened his grip on his ‘saber. He would have to be mindful now since Dooku would most likely try to attack from his weak side. “Worried you won’t be able to defeat me if I’m at full strength?”
The Sith merely raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “You’re no match for me, Kenobi, or has Geonosis slipped your mind?” As if to prove his point, he rushed forward, and Obi-Wan was barely able to bring his ‘saber up in time to block.
Red and blue ‘sabers clashed again and again, the Jedi managing to hold his own. Sweat dripped down his face, and he blinked quickly to clear the gritty sand from his vision. Dooku, seeing his opportunity, took it and stepped forward on the offensive, Obi-Wan stumbling back to avoid the hit.
Obi-Wan was struck with a Force blast before he could retaliate, and he was pushed backwards, teetering on the edge of the cliff. His arms pinwheeled as he struggled to regain his balance, but another Force blast, and he was tumbling down, unable to catch himself.
He landed hard on his right side, a strangled gasp of pain escaping as he felt bones breaking. Blood bubbled from his lips when he coughed, and he was exhausted, wanting nothing more than to just lie back and sleep. But he couldn’t. His men were depending on him.
His vision blurred, he screamed, as he rolled onto his back. Using his left hand, he forced himself to a sitting position. Just a little more, he told himself, you need to stand. He hunched forward, left palm flat on the ground, and bent his left knee, leaning all his weight on his left limbs as he painstakingly raised himself up.
His right leg was useless; he was distantly aware that he might have shattered his pelvic bone, and hot white pain burned through him faster than he could release it to the Force. His ‘saber rested a few feet away, but his right arm hung limply, so he’d have to use his left arm to fight, which further put him at a disadvantage, even though he’d trained to fight with either hand.
A mere second before Obi-Wan could call his ‘saber to him, it moved towards Dooku, who caught it in his free hand. “You’d best surrender. You’re in no condition to keep fighting, especially when you have no weapon to defend yourself with.”
Obi-Wan opened his mouth to reply, but all that came out was blood. Internal injuries, his mind helpfully supplied, and he spat out a mouthful of the red liquid. He grinned, thinking that he must look a sight with the entire right side of his body useless and blood smeared on his chin and teeth. “Thank you for your concern, but I’m afraid I can’t surrender,” he rasped, trying to stand straighter. Each movement sent daggers of pain through him, and his vision whited out several times, but he didn’t fall.
He couldn’t fall. He would fight to his last breath. He just hoped he had bought enough time for his men to retreat.
“Don’t be so foolish, Kenobi. You once again cannot use your right arm. Also, you are, quite literally, standing on your last leg,” Dooku said dryly, stepping closer.
Obi-Wan forced himself not to back up, not that he would have been able to move without falling over. “That may be true, but I would rather die fighting as a Jedi than die knowing I surrendered to a Sith like you.”
“So much wasted potential. What would your master say if he were here now? Oh,” Dooku said, drawing the sound out. “That’s right. He left you behind for a boy he’d just met. Such a pity that he didn’t appreciate your talent.”
The Jedi swallowed hard, then sputtered up blood, leaning over as he spat onto the ground. An ache settled in his chest, one that had nothing to do with the injuries he’d sustained. Qui-Gon. He fervently wished that he could talk to his former master one more time, to say that he was so thankful for everything that he had taught him, that he forgave him for abandoning him to train Anakin.
Master, I didn’t give up. I kept fighting until I died, Obi-Wan thought, closing his eyes for a brief moment before opening them and slowly sliding into a defensive position, left arm outstretched, left leg bent slightly and ready to move.
With every heartbeat, every breath, Obi-Wan knew with complete certainty that Dooku’s next attack would end his life. He was under no delusion that he would survive. No one was coming to save him. He was alone, just as he’d always been.
He blinked past the tears that suddenly sprang to his eyes and missed Dooku’s movement until the former Jedi was in front of him, red ‘saber swinging in an arc to cut him in half, and Obi-Wan had the ridiculous thought that just as he, a Jedi, had killed a Sith by slicing him in two, so would he die by a Sith’s hand the exact same way. Obi-Wan held out his hand, as though that would provide any protection, and closed his eyes.
The next thing Obi-Wan knew, he was in someone’s arms, flying through the air. He struggled, briefly, until his strength gave out, and he lay panting, pain and exhaustion taking its toll and making his limbs heavy. Gently, he was lowered to the ground, but his head rested on someone’s lap, lifting him just enough so he could breathe and not drown in his own blood - yet, at least.
Relief surged through Obi-Wan, and a single tear dripped down his cheek, making a trail through the dirt and blood smudged on his skin. He blinked, squinted, to make out the face, his breath catching as he recognized who it was, someone he’d seen in passing in recent years, someone he’d avoided.
Of fucking course, was Obi-Wan’s first thought, it had to be the Chosen One that saved him. A tiny part of Obi-Wan had hoped that, if someone were to save him, it would be Qui-Gon, just like in the ridiculous holo-vids where the damsel in distress was saved by her true love.
Anakin’s hair was slightly longer than it should be as a Padawan, the ends curling, and no braid hung from his head, but Obi-Wan remembered then that Anakin had been made a Knight shortly after the beginning of the Clone War. But if Anakin was here, did that mean…
Obi-Wan’s eyes widened, and a surge of strength gave him the power to lift himself onto his elbow to look across the gap to where Dooku and another presence stood. Even after so long, Obi-Wan knew those shoulders, the long hair, the protective stance.
“Qui-Gon,” he mumbled through the blood dripping from the corners of his mouth.
Qui-Gon turned slightly, ‘saber still pointed at Dooku, and offered Obi-Wan a relieved smile. “You did very well, Obi-Wan. Rest now. I shall take it from here.”
There was no Force suggestion behind the command, but it didn’t matter. Obi-Wan’s eyes rolled to the back of his head, the last thing he saw the worried blue eyes of one Anakin Skywalker and his lips shouting his name.
Chapter 3: Perfection
The first thing Obi-Wan became aware of was the soft bed underneath him. The second thing was the low rumble of a voice a few feet away. His eyes flew open, breath catching in his throat, and he had the fleeting thought that he was alive before the voice paused. Obi-Wan heard hurried footsteps, and when he looked over, Qui-Gon was leaning over him, concern radiating through him.
If you look for perfection, you'll never be content. - Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“Obi-Wan, how do you feel?”
“Alive,” the younger Jedi murmured. He moved to rise to a sitting position, and immediately, familiar, large hands were there, easing him up and arranging the pillows to prop him up. A lump formed in Obi-Wan’s throat as fingers - calloused and rough from gripping a ‘saber and hard work - caressed his cheek for a second. Only one second, but it was enough to bring memories flashing back, and tears sprang unbidden to his eyes.
“I thought,” he began, voice cracking, and dammit, he was thirty-six, he should not be this affected by a near death experience, “I was going to die.”
“Hush,” Qui-Gon soothed, large fingers - and Obi-Wan could feel them trembling, a testament to how this had also affected his former master - gently cupping his cheek. “You are safe now. We were able to stabilize you enough in the field to make it to Coruscant. You were in a bacta tank for three days, unconscious for two after that.”
“How did you know that we needed backup? I couldn’t contact anyone.”
“That is exactly why. The Council was trying to reach you to warn you that Dooku was there. When their attempts failed, they sent me and Anakin since we were the closest.” Qui-Gon locked gazes with Obi-Wan, the intensity in his eyes causing the younger Jedi’s breath to stutter. “I only regret,” he said solemnly as he took hold of Obi-Wan’s hand in both of his, “that I did not arrive sooner.”
“Master.” Obi-Wan searched for something to say, but his mind refused to work. For all of his linguistic prowess, he felt utterly unworthy of the title Negotiator at this moment. Slowly, cautiously, he raised a hand - and Force, was he relieved to discover that both of his hands were still gloved - fingertips brushing gently at his former master’s cheek. “There is no need to apologize, my master. You arrived exactly when I needed you.”
“I nearly lost you, Obi-Wan,” Qui-Gon’s voice was soft, quiet, and Obi-Wan had to strain to hear it.
Are you so certain that you haven’t lost me, the younger Jedi thought bitterly before closing his eyes and inhaling sharply. Blast, why was this so difficult? Why could he not get through one conversation without the anger and betrayal surfacing?
Because, a part of himself deep inside whispered, you haven’t let it go yet. You don’t want to let it go. You feel that your anger is justified.
And wasn’t that the most ironic thing? Earlier, when he’d been sure of his death by Dooku’s hand, he’d wanted nothing more than to tell Qui-Gon he was forgiven, and now he was taking it back, content to wallow in his anger and betrayal.
Neither spoke for a long moment. They remained there, staring at each other as though they were the only ones in the universe. Obi-Wan felt like he was on fire, the piercing eyes fixed on him burning, burning through his defenses. Distantly, he knew that he should stop this before something happened that he would later regret because Qui-Gon had left. He’d abandoned Obi-Wan the moment someone better had come along, and who was to say it wouldn’t happen again?
“Oh,” Qui-Gon sighed. “No, Obi-Wan. I never -”
But what he was about to say was cut off when the door opened, and Anakin stood framed in the doorway. Qui-Gon released Obi-Wan’s hand quickly and moved back. Obi-Wan’s other hand that had been cupping Qui-Gon’s face remained hovering in the air for a few seconds, shock and hurt and betrayal warring for first place in his mind, before his hand fell limply to the sheets.
Once again, Obi-Wan was being left behind for Anakin. Immediately, he slammed his shields in place, ignoring the sad look Qui-Gon sent his way. Qui-Gon had brought this on himself when he’d taken Anakin as his padawan.
“Oh, Master Kenobi, you’re awake!” Anakin’s grin was blinding as he walked to the other side of Obi-Wan’s bed. “You definitely look better than the last time I saw you. I was worried that you weren’t going to make it. You should have seen Master Qui-Gon. I’m surprised he didn’t wear a hole in the floor with all of his pacing.”
Obi-Wan blinked, entirely bewildered by Anakin’s friendly demeanor and blunt honesty. He hadn’t seen the boy, though he was a young man now, in close to eleven years. He and Anakin weren’t friends, not even acquaintances, which made Obi-Wan even more baffled as to why Anakin was relaying all of this, and looked to his former master for some clarity. Unfortunately, Qui-Gon’s face was its usual impassive mask of calm, so Obi-Wan had no way of knowing if Anakin had exaggerated.
Instead of asking and making things even more awkward, he ignored what Anakin had last said and simply replied, “I feel better, as well. Thank you for your assistance. I, too, did not expect myself to live much longer.”
Anakin grinned and squared his shoulders. “Master Qui-Gon fought Dooku off while I took care of your injuries. The ones I could, anyway. I’m amazed you were still able to stand when we found you.”
You weren’t the only one, Obi-Wan thought wryly, allowing himself to sink back into the pillows. Suddenly, something occurred to him, and he shot straight to a sitting position, which caused him to lose his breath as stabs of pain erupted from his right side.
“Fuck, Obi-Wan!” Anakin cried as he scrambled to steady him.
Out of the corner of his eye, Obi-Wan noticed Qui-Gon’s outstretched hand, his fingers flexing before he drew it back to himself and folded his hands inside of the sleeves of his robe. That struck Obi-Wan as odd, but he didn’t dwell on it any further. There was a more pressing matter. “My men?” He gasped out, eyes wide.
Force, how could he have not asked that sooner? For all he knew, his entire battalion was wiped out, and he hadn’t even thought to ask about them when he’d woken up. What a pathetic general he was. Obi-Wan didn’t doubt that Anakin, the Chosen One, would remember to ask about the welfare of his men.
“You need to be careful, Obi-Wan,” Anakin was saying when Obi-Wan’s mind cleared enough to focus on the conversation. “You were severely inju-”
“I’m fine!” Obi-Wan snapped as he wrenched away from Anakin’s touch. “Just, for the love of the Force, tell me how my men are!”
Fists clenched, he stared straight ahead, aware of the two other Jedi exchanging worried glances, and he could sense Qui-Gon’s disappointment, as well. Disappointment in what, though? That Obi-Wan had succumbed to anger for a brief moment, or that Obi-Wan had spectacularly failed his men?
Finally, Qui-Gon cleared his throat. “Your men are fine. Some of them were seriously injured, but their prognosis is that they will all make a full recovery.”
Obi-Wan sagged in relief, eyes closing as the tension seeped slowly from his body. “Thank the Force,” he breathed.
“Your men are tough, almost as tough as the 501st,” said Anakin jokingly, grinning widely.
Qui-Gon chuckled lightly and shook his head. “And they appear to have the same problem with their general as Anakin’s men.”
“I take calculated risks only when necessary,” Obi-Wan said, miffed that Qui-Gon would compare him to Anakin Skywalker. He’d heard horror stories about the young Knight, how he acted impulsively and often without thought to his own safety, how he preferred to strike first and ask questions later. Somehow, Anakin’s less than orthodox methods always came through in the end, granting him the victory, but Obi-Wan knew that his luck would run out eventually, unless it was his status as the Chosen One that allowed him to pull off the daring feats with minimum collateral damage.
“Like the time you were going to blow yourself up on Bandomeer so Master Qui-Gon could escape and save the planet?” Anakin laughed, and at first, Obi-Wan thought that Anakin was making fun of him, but realized that the younger Jedi was teasing him. Again, this confused Obi-Wan to no end because they weren’t friends, so what made Anakin think that they were close enough for teasing, unless it was simply because they both had the same Master.
And another question. How in the galaxy had Anakin learned about what had happened on Bandomeer? Had Qui-Gon told him? And if so, why? To warn Anakin not to act rashly like Obi-Wan (in which case Qui-Gon had failed extraordinarily), or because those were fond memories, or because Anakin had asked?
So many unanswered questions that were making his head spin, and he tried to sort through them in order to find the right one to ask as he glanced from Anakin to Qui-Gon and back again. Before he could even open his mouth, Anakin was up and talking once more.
“Master Qui-Gon and I had just finished a joint attack on a Separatist fleet, and next thing I know, he said we were headed to back you up, even though we -”
“We should let him rest, Anakin,” Qui-Gon interrupted before Anakin could say anything further, already moving towards the door. “He’s been through quite the ordeal these past few days, and he needs to regain his strength.”
“Oh, right.” Anakin’s shoulders drooped, but in the next moment, he seemed to brighten. “Take care of yourself, okay? I’ll see you around.” He gave one last smile before brushing past Qui-Gon, leaving Obi-Wan and his former master alone in the room.
I certainly hope not, thought Obi-Wan guiltily as his gaze slipped over to Qui-Gon. Something stretched between them, unspoken, and Obi-Wan yearned to have that closeness that they’d had as Padawan and Master.
Qui-Gon hovered in the doorway, brow furrowed in an expression that Obi-Wan recognized as being deep in thought. At last, Qui-Gon looked over, the corner of his mouth tilted up, as he said quietly, “I am proud of you, Obi-Wan.” Then he was gone before Obi-Wan could even blink.
Obi-Wan slumped back against the pillows and huffed out a breath. Damn, but he had to meditate to think through everything that had happened.
Seeing Qui-Gon again had been bittersweet, and for the briefest moment, Obi-Wan could believe that everything was back to normal, that he and Qui-Gon were as close as they’d been previously. His brow furrowed as he recalled what his former Master had said - that he and Anakin had been sent because they were closest to Obi-Wan’s location. For a split second, Obi-Wan had allowed himself to hope that Qui-Gon had volunteered to go only to have that hope dashed in the very next breath.
It was clear to Obi-Wan now that the only one still clinging to any hope of reconciliation was himself. He couldn’t compete against Anakin. He’d known that from the beginning when Qui-Gon had said that he would train Anakin, the Chosen One.
What had possessed Anakin to think that he and Obi-Wan were friends? Their last interaction had been when Obi-Wan had just been Knighted, and nine year old Anakin had congratulated him. Everything after that had been a polite nod in passing or a quick escape as Anakin called out to him.
Obi-Wan knew his behavior was unbecoming of a Jedi Knight, petty and childish, but he calmed his conscience by telling himself that it was better to ignore Anakin and Qui-Gon than to have either one of them realize his true feelings.
Whatever the case, it didn’t matter, Obi-Wan decided. Chances were high that he and Anakin and Qui-Gon would go back to ignoring each other now that he had woken up and was no longer in danger of dying.
Yes, Obi-Wan thought with great relief, that would be the last time he would see the Chosen One.
Chapter 4: Control
By the end of his second day in the Healing Wing, Obi-Wan was going stir-crazy. He hated being stuck there, had since he was a Padawan, preferring to tend to his own wounds as was his habit during his years as an Initiate. It was uncomfortable to have someone fuss over him, and he always felt as though he’d somehow failed by being injured. Even out on the field after a battle with droids, he always managed to escape from the medics, which frustrated his men, and Cody especially, who liked to crossly tell Obi-Wan that the 212th was immune to the particular brand of crazy that Obi-Wan was and would not adjust well to having a normal Jedi be their general.
At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie. - Paulo Coelho
While Obi-Wan had been secretly pleased to discover just how much his men liked him, he still sneaked off whenever he was injured, though his men had become excellent at finding his hiding places.
He sighed, wishing he could get back to his men. He’d managed to charm a healer into allowing him to call Cody a few hours ago, just to check in with him. Not that Cody had said much, stating that Obi-Wan needed to rest and not have the stress of battles on his mind.
“As if I never have that on my mind at all times, anyway,” Obi-Wan muttered.
“Never have what on your mind?”
Startled, Obi-Wan glanced up to see Anakin hovering in the doorway. “Oh. Anakin, hello. I- I wasn’t expecting to see you.” Surreptitiously, he checked that the gloves were still on his hands.
“I thought you could use some company.” Anakin came over to the bedside and sat down on a chair. “I know it gets boring here, and I wasn’t sure if you would get many visitors.”
“Only you and Qui-Gon,” Obi-Wan let slip before he could stop himself.
Anakin seemed to perk up at that, sitting up straighter and fixing an intense look on Obi-Wan. “Master Qui-Gon’s been here?”
“No, not since when I first woke up.” When he saw Anakin frown, he hastened to add, “I’m not expecting visitors, Anakin. I’m quite sure the war has kept everyone busy, and I’m not a Youngling or a Padawan.”
Frowning, Anakin crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. “I didn’t say you were either one of them. All I know is that time seems to pass by faster when you have someone distracting you.”
Or much more slowly if you have unwanted company, Obi-Wan thought, barely managing to resist the urge to groan. Honestly, a Jedi Master - and hadn’t that been a surprise four months ago when he’d been made a Master without having had a Padawan - ought to have better rein over his emotions and thoughts than he currently did. Force, but he had to meditate. He’d been unable to fully meditate since waking up, too conflicted and subconsciously unwilling to parse through his feelings and make sense of them. He knew that once he was in his own quarters, he would be able to concentrate easier.
A sharp knock at the door startled the two of them, and both gazes swung over as Chief Healer Vokara Che spoke.
“Hello, Master Kenobi,” the Healer greeted him with a smile as she stepped into the room. “How are you feeling today?”
“Much better than a few days ago,” he replied with a twinkle in his eye. “In fact, I feel well enough to stay in my quarters.”
Healer Che simply raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure how you handle injuries in the field, but right now, you’re here in the Temple under my care. How about I examine you first, and then you follow my recommendations?”
Obi-Wan, feeling like a chagrined Youngling, knew the tips of his ears were red, and he cleared his throat before flashing a smile towards the Healer. “Very well.”
Anakin was shooed from the room. He promised to come back in when they were finished, and Obi-Wan didn’t have the chance to tell Anakin that that wasn’t necessary. He was a full-grown Jedi. He didn’t need a babysitter or someone to keep him company. He preferred the solitude. If he was going to be stuck in the Temple away from the front lines, then he at least wanted peace and quiet, the opposite of one Anakin Skywalker.
The examination only took ten minutes, but it seemed to last a lifetime to Obi-Wan. He was just eager to get out of there.
Anakin must have been pressed against the door listening to their conversation because as soon as Healer Che was finished, the younger Jedi was immediately back in the room, standing by Obi-Wan’s side as though he belonged there. “How is he?” He asked before Obi-Wan could even open his mouth.
“Considering how a week ago, he was in a bacta tank, he’s doing very well.”
“He is right here,” Obi-Wan muttered, annoyed by the fact that they were talking about him as though he weren’t present. “So I’m able to leave, then?”
“I didn’t say that. You’ll be here at least another day,” the Healer said gently.
Obi-Wan grimaced. All he wanted was the privacy of his rooms, away from Healers and a certain young Knight. “Are you certain I cannot go back to my quarters tonight?”
“I’m sorry, Master Kenobi. My orders stand. I wish to make sure that there are no complications. Your injuries were severe, and we nearly lost you several times.”
“I nearly lost you, Obi-Wan.” Qui-Gon’s words from a few days ago surfaced in his memories, and he sucked in a breath. While he’d known at the time that his chances for survival were slim, he hadn’t fully dwelt on it. Had he really been that close to death so many times?
“What if someone stayed with him?”
Obi-Wan’s mouth dropped open as he stared at Anakin in near horror. Surely the younger Jedi didn’t mean to imply that he would be willing to stay with Obi-Wan. “No, that’s - I don’t need -”
“It’ll be fine,” Anakin cajoled. “I think Master Kenobi would benefit from sleeping in his own bed, and at the first sign of trouble, I can bring him here.”
And that was how Obi-Wan ended up being escorted to his quarters by one Anakin Skywalker. It was slow going, since there was still some discomfort from the right side of Obi-Wan’s body, but he hadn’t mentioned that to Healer Che. If he had, she never would have let him leave.
As it was, part of him was wishing that she hadn’t agreed because he would rather be anywhere else than here, walking back to his room with a rather enthusiastic Knight helping him. The last thing he wanted was to be stuck with Anakin for an entire night. With that thought in mind, he tried to find a way to convince Anakin that he would be fine by himself.
“Anakin, there’s no need for you to stay with me. I’m feeling quite well, and I’m sure that you have more pressing matters to attend to other than wasting your time supervising me.”
Anakin looked vaguely horrified at the thought of leaving Obi-Wan alone, jerking to a halt, blue eyes wide. “No!” He cried out, then hastened to add, “It’s really no problem. There’s nothing I have to do, and I did promise that I would stay with you. I don’t want to risk you having a setback with no one around to help you.”
Obi-Wan sighed, having nothing more to say to dissuade the young Jedi from staying. He resigned himself to a long night and focused on centering himself.
“Besides,” Anakin whispered conspiratorially, and Obi-Wan nearly jumped when he glanced over and saw Anakin’s face mere inches from his own, “we were both Padawans of Master Qui-Gon. I bet we have lots of stories we can swap.”
Oh, yes, thought Obi-Wan wryly, grinding his teeth, shall I share the story of how I was tossed aside by the man I love for you, the Chosen One?
Aloud, he said, “There’s not much to share. You were his Padawan, so you know what he’s like.”
“True, but don’t Masters have different teaching techniques for each of their Padawans? Everyone learns differently, after all.”
“Perhaps,” Obi-Wan allowed, “but Qui-Gon has always tended to do what the Force tells him, no matter what anyone else tells him otherwise. That includes how he teaches his Padawans.”
Anakin hummed thoughtfully in reply, and for a moment, Obi-Wan feared that he would speak again, but the younger Jedi remained silent.
Upon reaching his quarters, Obi-Wan sighed in relief. While he’d maintained that he was fine, he had to admit that he was exhausted by the time he sank onto his couch.
“Are you okay?” Anakin asked as he hovered by the side of the couch.
“Yes, Anakin, I’m fine.” Obi-Wan closed his eyes and leaned his head back, focusing on relaxing each muscle. He would never admit it out loud, but he could use a nap, or maybe some meditation.
Then he heard movement and remembered that he wasn’t alone. Withholding a sigh, Obi-Wan opened his eyes to find Anakin peering at the few pictures he had on a shelf. He winced as he watched Anakin’s fingers dance over the frames, wanting to tell him to be careful, but noticed that Anakin was gentle, almost reverent.
“You don’t have many pictures,” Anakin observed.
“A Jedi has very few belongings,” Obi-Wan countered.
Ducking his head, Anakin glanced over from the corner of his eye with a sheepish smile. “Oops. You probably wouldn’t be able to tell I’m a Jedi from my room, then. I have tools and mechanical parts everywhere.”
“And droids everywhere in the Temple,” Obi-Wan pointed out, struggling to hold back a smirk as he recalled seeing droids of various shapes and sizes throughout the early years of Anakin’s apprenticeship.
Anakin made a face. “Yeah, I don’t tinker with droids anymore. For one thing, I don’t have enough time. For another, I see droids practically every day, and they’re always trying to kill me.”
“Well, that does put a damper on your relationship,” Obi-Wan murmured then cleared his throat. He was thirsty, and if he remembered correctly, he still had some Sapir tea left. Obi-Wan had shifted halfway off the couch before a hand on his shoulder stopped him.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Anakin frowned down at him.
“The kitchen to make tea, or am I not allowed?” Obi-Wan asked dryly.
Anakin pressed down on Obi-Wan’s shoulder, easing him back down to a sitting position. “Not allowed. You’re supposed to be taking it easy.”
Obi-Wan snorted. “And just how stressful can making tea be?”
“If you’re anything like Qui-Gon, and I think you are, then you won’t just make tea. You’ll find something else to do while the water is boiling then when the tea is steeping.”
Obi-Wan would have argued, but Anakin was not wrong. This was the first time he’d been back in his own quarters in several months, and he knew that there were things he could be doing - checking his messages, cleaning the rooms, comming Cody to see how the fight was going.
He relaxed back into the cushions with a disgruntled look on his face, letting Anakin know that he was displeased with the accurate assessment. The pleased grin on Anakin’s face sent a funny feeling swirling through him, but he ignored it, passing it off as a side effect of the medication he was on, and called out as Anakin turned to the kitchen, “Please, don’t break anything.”
Anakin’s laugh in reply washed over him, and Obi-Wan grumbled to himself as he settled himself more comfortably.
Obi-Wan must have dozed off because the next thing he knew, he felt someone leaning over him. He blinked owlishly, pressing a hand to his mouth to stifle a yawn, and Anakin’s face seemed to relax.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” Anakin whispered. “I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. You didn’t even stir when I accidentally slammed a cabinet door.”
“Oh, I suppose I was more tired than I thought.” He rubbed a hand over his face then accepted the cup that Anakin held out to him. “Thank you.” He inhaled the scent of the tea, a luxury he didn’t always have out on the front lines, and cautiously took a sip. It was hot, but from what he could tell, it was prepared the way he liked. “This is good,” he said in surprise.
Anakin, who had been sitting straight on another chair, sank into the cushions with a pleased smile. “I may have commed Qui-Gon to see if he knew how you liked your tea,” he admitted sheepishly.
Obi-Wan’s heart skipped a beat. Qui-Gon still remembered how he took his tea? He looked down at his cup, willing the blush to stay away. For Force’s sake, he was acting like some besotted teenager with a crush. “Thank you, Anakin.”
“No problem. It looks like the tea woke you up.”
“I can’t recall the last time I was able to have tea,” Obi-Wan sighed happily.
Anakin was biting his lip, apparently trying to hide a smile, then spoke once more. “I noticed that Master Qui-Gon rarely eats or sleeps. Was he like that when you were a Padawan?”
Obi-Wan nodded, hoping that that answer would suffice but sighed when the younger Jedi just kept looking at him. “Yes, but that’s because he’s a plant. All he requires is sunlight and fresh air.” He brought his cup to his lips to hide his smirk as Anakin blinked.
“He’s not actually a plant, Anakin,” Obi-Wan set his tea down with a sigh. Honestly, was the Chosen One really that gullible? “He’s so attuned to the Living Force, it honestly seems as though he can survive on the bare minimum. There were a few times when I was a Padawan that I wondered if he remembered that I needed to eat.”
“Oh.” Anakin sank onto a nearby chair and leaned forward. “He always told me to make sure to tell him when I needed something.”
Naturally. Wouldn’t want the Chosen One to waste away to nothing after not eating for a day, was Obi-Wan’s first thought, followed almost immediately by, Anakin had been a slave and not used to having the freedom to ask for what he needed. I would have done the same, had I been the one to train Anakin.
“Speaking of food, are you hungry?” Anakin asked, bringing Obi-Wan from his thoughts. “If you have any food in your kitchen, I can make something.”
Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow. “You know how to cook?”
“The basics. Better than Master Qui-Gon, anyway.”
A laugh escaped before Obi-Wan could suppress it. “Yes, he was awful in the kitchen, even when I was a Padawan. But I’m afraid that I don’t have anything here. Ever since the war began, I haven’t kept anything in my kitchen.”
“Tell me what you want to eat, and I can pick it up from the refectory.”
While Obi-Wan wasn’t necessarily hungry, he realized that it would get Anakin out of his quarters for a short time, allowing him to regain control of his runaway thoughts and emotions. With that in mind, he sent Anakin off with a short list of foods that he liked then settled down to meditate.
A minute later, Obi-Wan knew that his control would be hard-won. Anakin’s Force presence lingered in the room, far stronger than it had any right to be for the short time he had been there. Obi-Wan groaned and scrubbed a hand over his face.
Damn Qui-Gon and his insistence on training Anakin. Damn Anakin and his persistence.
But most of all, damn Obi-Wan himself for allowing this to affect him so much.
Chapter 5: Signals and Thoughts
Luckily for Obi-Wan, the night passed quickly. After he’d eaten, he’d retired to his bedroom and, surprisingly, slept the whole night through. He didn’t awaken until Anakin knocked on his door to remind him of the appointment he had in an hour. By the time Obi-Wan used the ‘fresher and took a shower, Anakin had breakfast on the table.
Here we go again, with your mixed signals and my second thoughts. - Unknown
“I had a Padawan deliver it,” Anakin said almost sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.
Obi-Wan thanked him, they ate, and within an hour, he was back at the Healers, where Healer Che grudgingly admitted that Obi-Wan was doing better and could be on his own. Obi-Wan barely managed to keep his relief from showing, merely nodded gravely when the Healer cautioned him to take it easy. Light katas, no sparring, no heavy lifting for the next week, then she would assess him again. If she found out he was disobeying her orders, she reserved the right to drag him back and chain him to a bed. Obi-wan promised he would listen, turned down Anakin’s offer to be escorted back to his quarters, and made his escape.
The next week was spent convalescing, meditating, and avoiding Anakin, who had somehow gotten the impression that they were now best friends. Everywhere he turned, Anakin was there - the salles, the refectory, even Dex’s one afternoon. No matter what Obi-Wan did, he couldn’t escape the younger Knight, so after Healer Che released him from restrictions, he switched his schedule. He trained at odd times during the night, ate at odd times throughout the day, and remained holed up in his rooms the rest of the time.
Towards the end of the second week since he’d been allowed back in his quarters, the Council told him that he was being sent back out into the fray. He couldn’t help a sigh of relief. Maybe now he could get some rest. Who knew that avoiding one person could be so exhausting?
After the meeting, Obi-Wan went to the salles to get in one last spar, relieved to find that Anakin was nowhere around. He was discouraged, though, to discover that he was still over-compensating for the injuries on his right side despite having gained full mobility. He resigned himself to long practices once aboard his ship. He couldn’t afford to telegraph his movements because of a former injury.
After a short nap back in his quarters, which lasted longer than what Obi-Wan wanted, he woke, carefully stretching stiff muscles. “Last time I fall asleep on the couch,” he muttered to himself, though he knew it to likely be a lie. With the war, he’d grown accustomed to catching sleep wherever he possibly could. Cody had once found him leaning against the cargo bay wall, sound asleep on his feet. He hadn’t intended to fall asleep there, but some of the clones had been moving equipment around, and he’d stayed there to be out of their way. Apparently, he’d been more tired than he’d thought, and that incident had Cody worrying over him for the next few days, making sure that Obi-Wan got enough sleep.
Cody would be pleased, Obi-Wan thought, to see how much he was sleeping now despite the odd hours he was keeping, even though it irritated Obi-Wan to no end. Yes, Obi-Wan knew that sleep was necessary, but he could get by on five hours of sleep, four if he really had to. It was only because Obi-Wan felt responsible for keeping his men safe that he did try to sleep more often. A sleep deprived Jedi was of no help to anyone, and each life that he was unable to save merely motivated him to do more.
Swinging his legs over the side of the couch, Obi-Wan buried his face in his hands, remembering the men he had recently lost. He hated not being with his troops. After losses, they needed support and confidence to boost their morale, which Obi-Wan often provided. But now, he was stuck in the Temple. Glancing quickly at the chrono, he decided that he would make some tea then call Cody to check in.
He had just placed the kettle filled with water on the stove and turned it on when the door chimed. He frowned, wondering who it could it be and hoping that it wasn’t Anakin. There was only so much of the young Knight he could handle
“Master Qui-Gon,” Obi-Wan breathed upon opening the door, hardly able to believe that Qui-Gon was standing there before him. “Come in.” He stepped aside to allow him to enter and waved a hand towards the couch. “Have a seat.”
“Thank you,” Qui-Gon murmured, sitting on one end of the couch as Obi-Wan settled on the opposite side. “How are you feeling?”
“Better. I have no pain at all.”
“And your arm?” Qui-Gon asked quietly.
Obi-Wan frowned and stared down at his right arm, flexing his fingers. “It will be better in time,” he said finally, though his tone was a bit short. He hated talking about his arm. All it did was remind him of his failures.
Qui-Gon knew this, of course, and said nothing more on the subject, though Obi-Wan wished that his former Master would see his insecurities and reassure him. In the very next second, Obi-Wan - Master, General, The Negotiator - realized how pathetic that truly was. He wasn’t some Padawan or Youngling that needed kind words and praise. His self-deprecation was interrupted by the kettle whistling.
“Oh,” he said, moving towards the kitchen, “I was making tea. Would you like some?”
“I will never turn down tea,” Qui-Gon said with a smile.
It didn’t take long for Obi-Wan to prepare the tea. His own tea he could finish with his eyes closed, but he was careful with Qui-Gon’s cup. He wanted it to be perfect. Eleven years of separation had not dulled the memory of preparing tea for the two of them after a long meditation. Obi-Wan allowed himself a small private smile as his finger traced the design on Qui-Gon’s cup. It reminded him of the man, flowering vines twisting delicately around strong sturdy trees.
He carried the teacups into the living room and handed one to Qui-Gon before taking his seat. He clutched his own cup tightly, unaware that he was holding his breath as he watched Qui-Gon lift the cup to his lips and drink.
“You still remember how I take my tea,” Qui-Gon said in surprise, taking another sip.
All of the air rushed out of Obi-Wan in a relieved whoosh, and he sipped his tea to give himself time to recover. “As do you,” he replied softly. “Anakin told me that he commed you to see how I liked it.”
“When you live in each other’s pockets as we did for twelve years, it’s not difficult to learn the other’s likes and dislikes.”
Obi-Wan ducked his head, in deference to Qui-Gon’s observation but also to hide the flush creeping across his face. Force, but he knew what Qui-Gon liked. Qui-Gon liked to cover Obi-Wan’s body completely, liked to wrap the Padawan’s braid around his fingers to tug him in for a kiss, liked a firm grip on his cock except for the sensitive spot beneath the head where just a barely-there touch could almost make him come.
He cleared his throat and looked up in time to see a quiet smolder in Qui-Gon’s eyes before the older man glanced away, seemingly preoccupied with the few pictures that graced the shelves. Obi-Wan sat there, stunned, unsure if he actually saw that or if he was simply projecting his desires. He didn’t get the chance to further debate with himself because Qui-Gon gave a quiet chuckle and pointed to one of the pictures, reminiscing about when it was taken, and the two of them were off in the past, remembering the good times.
I missed this, Obi-Wan wanted to say but could not bring himself to speak. What if Qui-Gon did not feel the same? Obi-Wan would be mortified, then, to know that he was clinging to an attachment that his former Master didn’t have.
And Force knew that Obi-Wan was attached, despite the space separating them and the years that had slipped by. All of his best intentions to rid himself of his feelings for Qui-Gon had failed spectacularly, as evidenced by the way he had reacted upon seeing Qui-Gon after he’d woken from his injuries and now, with the older Jedi so close to him and yet so far away.
Qui-Gon finished his tea and set the cup aside before turning to face Obi-Wan. His expression was serious, his fingers laced together, and Obi-Wan immediately straightened, recognizing the posture as one that Qui-Gon had when there was a serious conversation he needed to have.
“Obi-Wan, there is something I need to ask you.”
Obi-Wan’s heart rate sped up, and he leaned forward in anticipation. Was this it? Was this the moment when Qui-Gon would ask if he was still interested? “Anything,” he breathed.
Qui-Gon gave an amused chuckle. “I thought I taught you better than to agree before you know what is being asked of you.”
Flushing, Obi-Wan murmured, “If you’re the one asking, how bad can it be?”
The older Jedi smiled fondly. “Ah, the faith you still have in me.”
Always, Obi-Wan wanted to say, even after everything, but his mouth wouldn’t form the words.
“It’s about Anakin,” Qui-Gon began, and those few words were enough to make Obi-Wan’s heart plummet to his toes. “Ever since the victory on Naboo years ago, Chancellor Palpatine has made it no secret that he has taken a liking to Anakin. It worries me, as I can sense a deeper underlying reason for Palpatine befriending Anakin, though I am not sure why exactly. Perhaps he hopes that having a friend in the Jedi will allow him to have some sway with the Council. I limited Anakin’s correspondence with the Chancellor when he was younger, but now that he’s a Knight, he’s allowed to make his own decisions about whom to associate with. I have tried speaking to Anakin about this, but he believes my distrust is because Palpatine is a politician.”
Understanding dawned on Obi-Wan even as he forced his own feelings back to deal with them later. “You want me to spy on Anakin,” he said in disbelief.
“Not spy exactly,” Qui-Gon shook his head. “Merely be there and listen to what he says. He may be more open with you than he is with me.”
“He hardly knows me.”
“That may be so, but you are his brother-Padawan. He feels a bond with you, and he does look up to you.”
That made Obi-Wan pause. Anakin, the Chosen One, had decided he was a good role model? How in the galaxy had that happened? They’d had limited interaction, not only because Obi-Wan was actively avoiding his former Master and new Padawan, but also because Obi-Wan had been a new Knight trying to establish himself in his new role. No, he couldn’t do this. There was no way Anakin, despite what Qui-Gon told him, would let his guard down enough to spill his secrets.
Obi-Wan looked up, his refusal to Qui-Gon’s request dying on his tongue as the older Jedi clasped their hands together and sent him a beseeching look.
“Please, Obi-Wan. I feel that Anakin’s fate is tied to this, and I trust you to be partial and help Anakin since I cannot.”
And as Obi-Wan looked closer, he could see that Qui-Gon was telling the truth. There was something deeply unsettling about the whole situation, and twelve years as Qui-Gon’s Padawan had taught him not to cast aside Qui-Gon’s intuition.
With a heavy sigh, he bowed his head, squeezing Qui-Gon’s hands. “Very well,” he acquiesced. “I will do my best to discover what possible motivation Palpatine has for this.”
“Thank you,” Qui-Gon murmured, smiling. He released Obi-Wan’s hands and stood, then hesitated before shaking his head slightly and stepping towards the door. “I heard that you are being sent back to the front lines.”
“Ah, yes.” Obi-Wan struggled to keep up with the switch in conversation, still trying to banish the feeling of Qui-Gon’s hands in his own. “Early tomorrow. The Healers have given me a clean bill of health, and I was told that I am needed.”
“Yes, you are.” The door to Obi-Wan’s quarters opened, and Qui-Gon glanced back with a soft smile, the one that Obi-Wan had seen after they’d agreed to become lovers. “Never doubt, Obi-Wan, that you are needed, both here and elsewhere.” With that, he left, the door swooshing closed behind him.
Obi-Wan sat, replaying Qui-Gon’s parting words over and over. He buried his face in his hands and groaned. For as much as he was called the Negotiator, Qui-Gon could still talk circles around him and Obi-Wan was unable to fully parse out the meaning.
But there was no time to dissect what Qui-Gon could possibly have meant. He had to ready his things for his flight tomorrow and get some much needed rest, as he wouldn’t have another chance for uninterrupted sleep until the next time he was in the Temple.
Qui-Gon, he thought as he headed towards his bedroom, how is it that I have known you for over half of my life, and I still don’t know you at all?
Chapter 6: The Past
This chapter references Clone Wars season 2 episode 5 - Landing at Point Rain
Obi-Wan stifled a yawn, pressing a hand to his mouth and shaking his head as he palmed the control to his quarters. Once inside, he leaned against the door and closed his eyes. He was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to sleep, but he had his report to prepare. The Council wanted to see him first thing in the morning, which was only five hours away.
The past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or erased; it can only be accepted. - Unknown
No sleep again for me tonight, he thought dully. Some light meditation and caf will have to do. He hoped that he would be able to sleep at some point during this short respite from the fight. Otherwise, he would be useless in the field. He honestly had no idea how Qui-Gon managed to function with the little sleep that he got.
With a groan, he buried his face in his hands as he recalled again what Qui-Gon had asked of him the last time they’d seen each other, nearly two months ago. How could Obi-Wan spy on Anakin? It wasn’t like the two of them were close friends. He could safely call Anakin an acquaintance, at the very least, but certainly not the kind who could get away with requesting details about Anakin’s personal life.
Then again, Anakin seemed to be the type of person who would voluntarily share information. If that was the case, then it would be easier than Obi-Wan originally thought. Whatever the situation was, it was highly unlikely that the two of them would be crossing paths very soon. There was a war raging on, and both of them were in high demand due to their successes. It made no sense for them to be placed on the same campaign. That fact would make it near impossible to keep his promise to Qui-Gon, but it was out of his hands. At least he could honestly tell Qui-Gon that he hadn’t been able to talk to Anakin yet.
Sighing heavily, Obi-Wan sat down at his desk and pushed all thoughts of Qui-Gon and Anakin away. He had more important things to worry about right now.
His report to the Council was well received, not that he’d had any doubts. He bowed, ready to terminate the connection and maybe get some sleep, when Mace called for him to wait, saying that the Council had new orders for him.
“We’re sending Skywalker to your location,” Mace said. “You’re to free Geonosis.”
“Geonosis?” Obi-Wan said in disbelief. “You can’t be serious. How many times are we going to liberate that planet? How many lives are we going to sacrifice? There are other planets that -”
“Master Kenobi!” Mace snapped, his hologram taking a step forward. “You are way out of line. You have your orders, and the Council expects you to obey them. Is that clear?”
Chagrined, Obi-wan bowed at the waist. “I apologize, Masters. It will be done.”
“Good. See that it is.” With that, the holograms winked out of existence.
Obi-Wan straightened, teeth gritted and fists clenched. “Force damn it all.” In a rare fit of temper, he used the Force to lift a chair, prepared to throw it, but stopped when someone cleared his throat behind him.
Obi-Wan drew in a deep breath, held it in for a few beats before releasing it. The chair clattered to the floor, and the Jedi turned tired eyes to Cody. “My apologies, Cody,” he murmured heavily, realizing that this apology was more sincere than the one he’d given to the Council. “I am… just tired of needless death.”
Cody nodded sympathetically. “I understand completely, Sir. Shall I take inventory or our supplies and men?”
“Please do. General Skywalker should be here in a few hours, and then we can compare notes and strategize.”
“Sir!” Cody snapped to attention, saluted, and hurried off.
Obi-Wan stood there for a moment before righting the chair and sinking onto it with a tired groan. He braced his elbows on his knees and rubbed his hands over his face. Force, but he hated Geonosis.
He clearly remembered his last visit to Geonosis. He’d followed Jango Fett there from Kamino after the attempted assassination of Padmé. With Quinlan Vos guarding the Senator, it had fallen to Obi-Wan to capture the would-be assassin, and Obi-Wan had narrowly avoided capture there, only to run into Dooku. He’d survived that encounter by sheer luck, Quinlan and Padmé arriving in time to whisk him away to safety. Even back then, Obi-Wan thought bitterly, he’d been unable to defeat Dooku. All he’d had to show for his efforts was a ‘saber wound through his left leg and a missing right arm.
Scowling, Obi-Wan rubbed the part of his arm that attached to his prosthetic. The chill of space always irritated his injury, and he was still working out the kinks from the fall he had taken a few months ago while fighting Dooku. Slowly, he pulled the glove off of his right hand, the shiny metal prosthetic taunting him. He felt revulsion and despair welling up inside of him.
He hadn’t been strong enough to stop Dooku the first or second time they’d fought. What was he doing as a Jedi and General? How could he protect his men if he couldn’t even protect himself? It was only a matter of time until he failed, more than he already had, and innocent lives were lost. He could only hope that when he did die, he took a whole battalion of Separatists and a Sith with him to make up for his failure.
Obi-Wan tugged on the glove harshly. He didn’t have time for these thoughts. He had a battle to plan.
Three hours later, Obi-Wan and Cody were in the hangar, watching as Anakin and Rex departed from the small ship. Despite his misgivings, Obi-Wan figured that this was the galaxy’s way of telling him to get a move on his promise to Qui-Gon.
“Welcome aboard,” Obi-Wan said.
“Master Kenobi,” Anakin greeted him, grinning broadly.
“Please, call me Obi-Wan. We are brother-Padawans, after all.” He winked and was shocked to see a light flush spread across Anakin’s cheeks. Force, Qui-Gon was right! Anakin did look up to him despite the few interactions they’d had over the years. Perhaps, he mused, Anakin felt more towards him than a bond between brother-Padawans.
Obi-Wan tilted his head, indicating for Anakin to follow him. Cody stayed behind for the time being, catching up with his brother. Obi-Wan didn’t mind, fully supportive of his men being allowed personal time. Not to mention one never knew when their time was up, and with the campaign on Geonosis looming in the near future, death might be sooner than one liked.
“Let’s see how long we can keep control of Geonosis before the Separatists win it back,” Obi-Wan murmured to himself.
“You really don’t like Geonosis.”
Obi-Wan couldn’t stop the derisive snort that escaped. “Whatever gave that away?” He asked dryly.
Anakin frowned. “Hey, you don’t have to bite my head off. I’m just making conversation.”
“I am sorry, Anakin,” Obi-Wan sighed, and Force, how many times was he going to have to apologize today? “Geonosis...does not hold pleasant memories for me.”
Anakin flicked his eyes to Obi-Wan’s right arm, and Obi-Wan squashed the urge to hide his arm behind his back. “I’m sure,” he said quietly, “but look at it this way. You fought against Dooku twice, and each time, you lived to tell the tale.”
Except I never wanted anyone to hear about it, lest they know that I was not strong enough to bring him down. Obi-Wan didn’t reply to Anakin’s statement, merely smiled and gestured to the bridge. “Should we discuss our plans now?”
Anakin’s brow furrowed, and it looked like he was about to say something, but he just nodded. “Lead the way, Obi-Wan.”
Two hours, twenty-three scrapped ideas, the Council’s promise to send Plo Koon to help, and one fairly decent plan later found Obi-Wan in his room, gloves removed as he struggled to tighten one of the tiny screws buried beneath wires in his prosthetic. He was not dominantly left, so that made the task even more difficult, aside from the fact that it would be infinitely easier if he had two hands - one to hold the wires aside and the other to tighten the screw.
“Blast!” He swore, tempted to throw the small tool in his hand, but he refrained. The last thing he needed was someone to walk in, like Cody had done earlier when he’d nearly thrown a chair.
Heat rose in his cheeks, and he did drop the tool then, slumping in his seat and staring morosely at his prosthetic. He thought that he had gained control of his temper, that being one of the reasons that Qui-Gon had at first refused to take him as a Padawan, but lately, his training seemed to have failed him.
He sensed Anakin stop by his door, and his gaze jerked over, waiting to see if the young Knight would continue on his way or -
Obi-Wan bit back a groan as Anakin knocked on the door. “Enter,” he called out as he tried to contain the mess on his desk and picked up the tool again. His hand was shaking as Anakin came into the room. He could count on one hand how many people had seen his prosthetic, and he intended to keep it that way for as long as possible.
“I wasn’t sure if you’d eaten yet,” Anakin said as he held up a tray laden with a variety of food. “I thought that maybe we could eat together?”
Obi-Wan knew that he could refuse, but Qui-Gon’s request remained forefront in his mind. The corners of his lips tilted up, and he waved his only operable hand at the desk. “If you can find a place to set the tray, be my guest.”
Carefully, Anakin slid the tray onto the surface, then frowned as he glanced from Obi-Wan’s hand to the tools and various pieces on the desk. “Feel free to say no, but I can see what I can do for your arm,” Anakin said tentatively.
Obi-Wan almost said no, but one look at Anakin’s hopeful expression had him sighing and saying instead, “I suppose nothing can make it worse.”
Anakin rolled his sleeves up and sat down. Within a few minutes, there were tools and tiny pieces of Obi-Wan’s arm scattered around the table. Obi-Wan bit his tongue, wanting to tell Anakin to make sure that he didn’t lose anything, but he figured Anakin knew that already, so he forced himself to relax and focus on what Anakin was doing. Perhaps, he thought, he could learn a thing or two.
Anakin must have realized that Obi-Wan was intently watching since he began talking out loud and explaining the steps he was taking. Obi-Wan had to admit that Anakin certainly was knowledgeable about this subject, and after an hour, Obi-Wan’s arm was functioning even better than it had been before his fight with Dooku.
“Anakin, this is amazing,” Obi-Wan said in awe as he clenched his fingers to make a fist. “I actually feel like I can hold my ‘saber without fear of dropping it.”
Anakin ducked his head, and Obi-Wan was secretly amused at the blush that was spreading across the younger Jedi’s face.
“It’s no big deal,” he mumbled, though Obi-Wan thought he sounded pleased, and began putting away the tools. “I’ve just got a talent for it.”
“I greatly appreciate this.” Obi-Wan clasped Anakin’s shoulder and squeezed briefly. “I believe that if you hadn’t become a Jedi, you would have still made a name for yourself by making and repairing mechanical things.”
Anakin flashed him a grin. “You mean instead of being the Hero With No Fear, I would have been the Mechanic With No Fear?”
Obi-Wan let out a short laugh, surprising himself. He didn’t laugh much, not anymore. Not since Qui-Gon had abandoned him, and definitely not since the war had begun. “That moniker would still work. I doubt you’re afraid to try making or fixing anything.”
Anakin’s grin faded into a rueful smile, and he looked down. “Sometimes,” he said softly, “I’ve often thought about what I would be doing now if I’d stayed on Tatooine. If I would have been able to somehow save enough money to buy freedom for me and my mom on my own.”
“How is your mother?” Obi-Wan asked. He’d heard about how Qui-Gon had traveled back to Tatooine to purchase Shmi, only to discover that Watto had already freed her because he’d felt pity for her upon seeing how distraught she was after Anakin had left.
“I haven’t been able to reply to her last message from a few days ago, but she seems to be doing well,” Anakin replied. “She likes Mandalore. Her employers are definitely better than any of the ones she’s had before, and she was promoted to manager of the restaurant. I’m just glad that Duchess Satine agreed to let Mom stay there. She must really like you and Master Qui-Gon to accept an outsider.”
He was not blushing, Obi-Wan told himself, clearing his throat and busying himself with taking a drink. “She owes us her life. Jedi normally don’t collect on debts, but Qui-Gon has a tendency to not always follow the Code. He knew that it was important for you to know that your mother was safe, and he took steps to ensure her safety.”
“I would have had an even more difficult time adjusting to life at the Temple if I was worrying about her every day,” Anakin admitted.
“I’m glad everything worked out for you.” And here, Obi-Wan surprised himself and Anakin by reaching over with his flesh hand and squeezing Anakin’s forearm. They froze, both of their gazes locked on Obi-Wan’s hand until Obi-Wan hurriedly withdrew it, clearing his throat. Why the fuck had he done that? “It’s late, and we have plans to finalize in the morning. We should probably get some rest.”
“Yeah,” Anakin said slowly as he stood up. His eyes flicked to Obi-Wan’s, searching for something, before he gave a tentative smile. “Sleep well. See you in the morning.”
“Same to you,” Obi-Wan replied, watching the younger Jedi leave with the tray of dirty dishes. He blew out a breath and slumped in his chair, staring at his hand. He didn’t touch people. He liked his personal space, so what in the galaxy had possessed him to touch Anakin? Why was his hand tingling from the limited amount of contact?
An even more important question - why did he want to touch Anakin again?
The battle on Geonosis went about as well as Obi-Wan expected it would. That is to say, it was a complete disaster. Obi-Wan had lost track of everything except the blaster bolts fired by the Geonosians and droids. From the moment he set foot on the planet - or more accurately crashed on the planet - his focus had narrowed to those around him who were protecting, defending, and destroying for him. He couldn’t do anything to help, too injured to even stand. In the end, Anakin had rescued him again, and Obi-Wan was once again shipped off to Coruscant.
Luckily, Obi-Wan was back on full duty a week later, and he made his way back to his men, who had been following Anakin’s orders per the Council’s wishes. Once in command of his battalion, he and Anakin launched a strategic strike to drive the Separatists from Lannik.
It was three days of fighting in the cold and damp. It never stopped raining there, and visibility was often low due to the downpours that were nearly constant. Obi-Wan was continually drenched and miserable, and he found that he couldn’t decide if he would prefer Geonosis or Lannik.
The last day of fighting lasted almost ten hours, but search and rescue took two hours longer. Only after Obi-Wan made sure that all of his men were taken care of did he finally make his way to his own tent, collapsing on the cot only to groan upon realizing that he had not removed his boots or filthy robes.
“Force blast it all,” he grumbled, heaving himself to his feet before stripping off his clothing.
The whisper was so soft that Obi-Wan almost missed it, even in the quiet of the night. Hesitating, he debated about pretending to be asleep, but something niggled at his mind. Anakin sounded disheartened, and his presence in the Force was subdued, as if heavy thoughts were weighing him down.
He hurriedly tugged on clean leggings and a tunic before pushing open the tent flap and offering Anakin a smile. “Come in, Anakin. Have a seat.” He waved a hand toward the desk chair then settled himself on the cot.
The younger Jedi buried his face in his hands, shoulders slumped, and Obi-Wan waited patiently and silently, allowing Anakin time to collect his thoughts.
“I hate this,” Anakin said finally, glancing up at Obi-Wan. The pained expression on his face made Obi-Wan’s heart ache, and without thinking, he leaned forward and rested a hand on Anakin’s knee, hopefully a source of comfort.
“I lost twenty-seven men today. I know that many people think of them as disposable, but they’re not to me,” Anakin continued, voice growing louder with each word. “They’re human beings, no matter how they were created. They have their own personalities, and they have names. They bleed. They die, and I can’t save them!”
“Oh, Anakin,” Obi-Wan murmured. What Anakin was speaking were thoughts that he himself continually had. “You save as many as you possibly can. That’s all you can do, and fight for the memory of those you lost. This is war, Anakin, and it’s not nice, not fair, but this is the hand we’ve been dealt. I have lost many men as well. I still remember their names, and every morning I say them aloud.” He flushed then, looking away. “It’s probably not the healthiest way to deal with the loss, but it always strengthens my resolve to do better. I’ve always strived to do better, to be better.”
“To be perfect, you mean?”
Obi-Wan froze, wide-eyed, breath caught in his throat. No, he wanted to say, that’s ridiculous, no one can be perfect, but he knew that would be a lie. His whole entire life’s goal had been to be perfect. The perfect Initiate, perfect Padawan, perfect Knight, and now perfect Master and General.
Anakin grinned and shook his head. “Obi-Wan, trust me when I say that you were the perfect Padawan.”
Obi-Wan couldn’t stop a sharp bitter laugh from escaping. “Force, if I was such a perfect Padawan, then why was I tossed aside as soon as it was convenient for him?”
“I-” Anakin blinked then narrowed his eyes. “What are you talking about, Obi-Wan?”
“You had to be trained, and no one else would have trained you, so naturally, Master Qui-Gon volunteered to be your Master.”
“But that… Obi-Wan, that was years ago! Are you telling me that it still bothers you?”
I need to get away, was Obi-Wan’s thought. I’ve messed this all up. Anakin will tell all of his friends, and I’ll be a laughingstock now. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Master and General, unable to come to terms with the fact that another was chosen over him.
A hand on his arm startled Obi-Wan, and he jumped, not having realized until now that he had stood, fists clenched in a panic as he was swept away by his runaway emotions. He focused on Anakin’s calm presence, the hands on his shoulders, and soon became lost in the worried gaze of Anakin’s eyes - the same look he had seen after his fight with Dooku and again in the Temple.
“So that’s why,” Anakin began slowly, “you were avoiding me and Master Qui-Gon.”
Obi-Wan’s blood ran cold. “Why do you say that?”
“Other Knights that I’ve seen still have a friendly relationship with their former Master, but not you. I’m not stupid, Obi-Wan,” Anakin said. “I can tell that you do your best to avoid Master Qui-Gon and me, but I’ve never been able to figure out why. Master Qui-Gon won’t tell me. He only says that I shouldn’t dwell on the past, but don’t you think that I deserve to know what I did to make you avoid me?”
Obi-Wan didn’t want to talk about. He’d buried it, or so he thought, but somehow it always surfaced to stalk him once more. He debated about dismissing Anakin, but if he wanted Anakin to be honest with him, then he would have to extend that same courtesy. “There is too much history between Qui-Gon and I for us to have a friendly relationship.”
“‘Too much history.’ Just what do you mean by that?”
“Qui-Gon and I - He -” Obi-Wan sighed heavily, running a hand over his face. “He rejected me as a Padawan several times before accepting me, for starters. Then after we met you, he expressed his interest in training you, which meant that my future hung in the balance. I had to wonder if he’d really even wanted me at any time.” He deliberately left out the part where he and Qui-Gon had been lovers. Some information was just too personal to share.
Silence reigned between them for a short time, and Obi-Wan crossed over to the tent flap and closed his eyes, hands clasped behind his back as he waited for Anakin to digest the new information. That wasn’t something he liked to think about, even though it had been eleven years. It still hurt like it had just happened yesterday, like if he closed his eyes, he would be standing before the Council, Qui-Gon at his side, as humiliation rushed through him.
“That really fucked you up, didn’t it.” It wasn’t a question. Anakin already knew the answer, and he didn’t need Obi-Wan to confirm. “Look, Master Qui-Gon really does care about you. I mean, why else would he have gone racing to save you from Dooku all those months ago?”
Obi-Wan hesitated for a beat, wondering if this was a trick question. “Because the two of you were the closest to where I was.”
Anakin was already shaking his head before Obi-Wan had even finished speaking. “No, Obi-Wan. We were actually farther away than what Qui-Gon told the Council. I couldn’t tell at the time if Qui-Gon was so eager to go because of his former Master or because of you.” Shrewd blue eyes studied Obi-Wan, as though searching for the answer, but Obi-Wan let nothing show on his face.
He stared back, unflinching, even as his thoughts raced. Was it possible that Qui-Gon cared more than he let on? Then why continue hiding that fact? Obi-Wan understood the need for secrecy before when he was still a Padawan, but they were both Masters now. There was no need to keep their relationship in the shadows any longer.
But did they even have a relationship? Ever since Qui-Gon had expressed interest in training Anakin, the bond between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon had been damaged. The situation only worsened after Obi-Wan was Knighted, when he received his own solitary missions and their training bond was severed.
Though not all of the fault lay with Qui-Gon, he knew. Obi-Wan had pulled away, as well, shielding his thoughts, moving into his own rooms as quickly as possible, avoiding Qui-Gon. Perhaps, he mused sadly, this misunderstanding could have been avoided if they had only communicated. It was too late. What was done was done. There was no turning back time, no reliving the past. They could only move forward.