TITLE: Put the Past Away
AUTHOR: Obi the Kid (firstname.lastname@example.org)
RATING: PG-13 (for subject matter dealing with Suicide)
SUMMARY: 5 years pre-TPM. H/C, non-slash. (Sequel to "Call and Answer") After the death of Qui-Gon's first apprentice, Obi-Wan attempts to come to terms with his own feelings.
FEEDBACK: Yes, please.
ARCHIVE: Ask me first.
MY WEBSITE: http://www.angelfire.com/movies/obithekid/
DISCLAIMER: The characters and venue of Star Wars are copyrighted to Lucas Films Limited. The characters not recognizable from this venue are copyrighted to Tracy C. Knight. The story is the intellectual property of Tracy C. Knight and is copyrighted to her. She makes no profit from the writing or distribution of this story.
NOTE: This is a sequel to my story "Call and Answer." I suggest you read that one first. You can find it on my website. The address is above. And THANKS to Julie for her plot suggestions that helped get this story where I wanted it to be.
** Inner thoughts**
Put the Past Away
Qui-Gon pulled the leather-bound journal from the bookshelf that hung over his nightstand. He hadn't opened the book since his first padawan's Knighting day all those years ago. Slowly, he began searching the frayed pages. Glancing over them, his emotions began to run wild. Mission after mission was recounted in his own handwriting. Memories of long ago, when he was so young.
He scanned the writing, Keyla Drass had been such a devoted padawan. Everything she did, was done with clarity and with purpose. One entry was especially hard for Qui-Gon to read over. It was the day that Keyla was forced to kill for the first time. *Fourteen years old. How can a child be capable of killing at that age?* Taking a deep breath, Qui-Gon recollected that period in their lives. He'd never seen anyone hurt so much inside as his young apprentice had after that death. Such painful images. But ones that the master did not want to forget.
Taking a deep breath, he sat back, stared at the ceiling and remembered.
Obi-Wan Kenobi wandered the halls of the Jedi Temple. Feelings of loneliness penetrated his soul. It had been almost a month now since the death of Keyla Drass, his master's first apprentice. Her suicide had been a terrible blow to the Jedi, but hit Qui-Gon Jinn harder than anything ever had before. At times, the Jedi Master seemed fine, but Obi-Wan could feel the anger and the pain coming through their link. As much as the apprentice cared for his teacher and wanted to help him, there were days when he needed to get away.
Since Keyla's death, Qui-Gon had become a bit to overprotective of his current padawan. Obi-Wan was beginning to feel almost trapped. Qui-Gon loved him very much, of that he had no doubt, but lately, the constant attention was becoming...annoying. The young Jedi got the sense that the older man was afraid to let him out of his sight, afraid to let him alone...afraid to lose him.
To those outside the bond, the master/padawan team seemed content enough. Having come to terms with what had happened. Masters Windu and Yoda were preparing to send the pair on their first mission in over four weeks. All seemed well.
Inside, Obi-Wan knew differently. While Qui-Gon appeared the picture of calm to his friends and fellow Jedi, emotionally, he was not himself. This death had shaken him more than he would ever admit to.
With Qui-Gon asleep on the couch, Obi-Wan decided to escape the small apartment for a while. He needed to clear his mind...refocus. Walking aimlessly for over an hour, he found himself in the sparring gym. Master Jerra Derson and his apprentice, Taj Elim, where putting on a show for the younger teams. The master and his padawan were highly respected among the Order, and were good friends of Jinn and Kenobi.
Obi-Wan watched the mock battle, impressed with the display of control before him. When the pair had finished their sparring, Taj bounded over to where Obi-Wan was standing.
"Hi Obi. I heard that you and Master Qui-Gon were leaving tomorrow for a mission to Rajor. You ready to get back into the swing of things?"
Obi-Wan just shrugged and Taj picked up on the solemn mood. "What's wrong?"
Shaking his head, the younger padawan replied, "I'm not sure Taj. I thought my master was getting better, but he's been acting strangely lately."
"It's almost like he's afraid to let me do anything. He's nervous...it's just not like him to be this way. Normally, he's always in control. I think he's scared that something will happen to me." Sitting down on the bench beside the other apprentice, Obi-Wan tried to relax, find his calm in the Force, but it was no use.
Taj took a seat next to his friend. "It sounds like he doesn't want what happened to Master Drass to happen to you. He's worried Obi."
"You don't know Taj. He's being so overprotective. I can't do anything without him near. He won't talk anymore about what happened. Tells me the subject is closed. I don't know what to do. Why did Master Drass do this? I can't answer that. Why does anyone choose that way out? Things can't get so complicated that you kill yourself...I just don't know."
Taj stood before his fellow student. "You need to talk about this. Give me a half-hour to get cleaned up and I will meet you in the Meditation Gardens. It should be quiet there right now. Okay?"
Taj headed for the showers. He found Master Jerra waiting for him. "Padawan, you and Obi-Wan were deep in conversation there. Anything you wish to talk about?
The apprentice was hesitant at first, but decided to remain open with his master. "He's worried about Master Qui-Gon." The young man told Jerra what Obi-Wan had told him. Immediately the elder Jedi became concerned for his old friend.
"Perhaps I should speak with Qui-Gon about this."
Taj rushed to detour that thought. "No master. This is something that they have to work out. Obi-Wan will let me know if it gets to be more than he can handle. I am meeting him in the Gardens in a while. He wants to talk. I think it'll be okay, but he just needs someone to listen right now, and Master Qui-Gon is not that person."
Placing a hand on the padawan's shoulder, Jerra smiled. "I am proud of you Taj. You're a good friend to Obi-Wan. Should you need anything, don't hesitate to ask."
Blushing slightly, Taj nodded. "Yes master. Thank you."
Qui-Gon had awoken to find Obi-Wan gone. He was immediately concerned, but he sought to find comfort in the Force. Closing his eyes, he remembered the journal that he'd been reading through before he'd fallen asleep. It lay next to him. He picked it up and once more reached for the memories it held.
Images of Keyla winning sparring tournaments flashed in his mind as turned the pages. She had an incredible skill with the saber, and few ever bested her. Even Qui-Gon had trouble defeating the young woman when she was on her game. Slowly these happier images drowned out the more painful ones, and Qui-Gon became more and more aware of how much he truly missed his first apprentice.
The Meditation Gardens were indeed quiet. Several older Jedi littered the area near the fountain. Taj focused his attention on the smaller figure sitting alone near the falls. "Hi Obi. Mind if I sit down?"
"Talk to me Obi." The older padawan was genuinely concerned for his friend, and Obi-Wan sensed that. He felt that he could speak freely with Taj about most anything.
"Have you ever thought about suicide? I mean, have things ever gotten so bad that you would consider it?" Kenobi looked directly into the Jedi's coal black eyes.
Taj looked away, giving the question serious thought. "I haven't. This life is not easy, and there are some days when I question why I continue to follow this path. Death, hatred, poverty, despair. We see those almost daily. The pain of losing a friend, or someone closer. Like when Bant died. It's a pain that is unmatched. There is nothing you can do to make it go away...only time can do that."
Obi-Wan was confused. "But why did Master Keyla choose this way out? If time can help to heal, why didn't she give herself the time she needed? Why didn't she ask for help? She had friends she could turn to...healers...even Master Yoda. There was so much open for her. Master Qui-Gon said she took the cowards way out."
Silence fell over the padawans for a moment. "I don't know Obi. Because she was overcome by grief for what she lost. Keyla lost her apprentice. They'd been together for a very long time. She lost her son and was unable to fight those feelings of remorse and self blame." Taj let his voice fade out.
Obi-Wan, battling the mixed emotions, unexpectedly lashed out. He stood in front of the other and felt his voice echo through the normally docile gardens. "SHE HAD A CHOICE! FIGHT OR GIVE UP! She gave up. Gave up everything she stood for...everything she had accomplished. Her apprentice died for her and this is how she honored his memory...by killing herself. The cowards way out."
Taj tried to calm the agitated student. "Obi-Wan..."
Obi-Wan slapped the young Knight's hand away. "NO! It's true. Would Master Qui-Gon or Master Jerra do what she did if anything happened to us? NEVER! They are not afraid to ask for help, to reach out to find someone who cares. Master Qui-Gon would never..." Obi-Wan stopped and caught his words.
"What do you think he is doing right now? Your master? He told you not to talk about it anymore, the 'subject is closed' as you told me. He's doing the same thing that Master Keyla did. He's turning his back on the one person who can help him. The one person who loves him. More than anyone, you know how this has affected him. You see it his actions and hear it in his words. Maybe in his smothering of you, he is reaching out in the only way he can right now. Maybe by running from your master, you are turning your back on him. He is protecting you from an uncertain future. You will never be safe, even with you are Knighted. There are dangers everywhere...heartbreaks everywhere." The older padawan paused for a moment. "She wasn't a coward Obi. I know enough about Master Jinn to know that he doesn't raise cowards. Somewhere along the way, Keyla got lost, and couldn't find the path back. She lost that one piece of stability in her life, the one entrusted to her. Once that was lost, she thought she had nothing else. Lost, confused, hurting...she was all those things. But coward? I don't think so. I think you need to talk to your master Obi. I know if I was in this situation, I would talk to Master Jerra about it. Share your feelings. I bet you'll find that you have a lot of the same thoughts and fears that he does."
As the sincere words of his friend sunk in, Obi-Wan's eyes wandered to the waterfall at the end of the stream. He watched the water as it cascaded from the fall into the current below. Everything seemed so simple here. Life was anything but simple. He sighed and turned to his companion. "When did you become so wise?"
Shrugging his shoulders and attempting lighten the mood, Taj replied, "I don't know, comes with age I guess."
A small laugh escaped Obi-Wan's lips. "You're only two years older than I am."
"Yes, but I am wise beyond my twenty-two years."
"Okay, I will talk to him instead of trying to avoid him." The apprentice took a deep breath. "Have you ever known anyone who took their own life?"
"You don't remember Jee-An Kai do you?"
Obi-Wan shook his head.
"He was chosen as a padawan the same day I was, by Master Ardan. A month later, he and his master were on a mission where two other master/apprentice teams were killed right in front of him. He was witness to everything that happened. Nightmares haunted him for months afterwards, to the extent that Master Arden had to allow the healers to take over his care. It got so bad for Kai that he couldn't deal with the horrible visions anymore. They found him the next day, a saber wound to the heart. I didn't know him very well, but it hurt me to think about what he went through. Talk to your master Obi-Wan. Don't let this sit too long."
"I think...I think you're right Taj." The boy released a heavy sigh. "I need to talk to him." Extending his hand, he closed both his around that of his friend. Thankful for the release. "Thank you for listening, and for sharing. I owe you."
"Nah, you don't owe me anything. You two just look after each other. If you need me, you know where I am." Taj reached forward and caught Obi-Wan in a brief embrace. "I will talk to you soon."
He entered his quarters carefully, not wanting to wake Qui-Gon if he was still sleeping. His master however, had woken long ago. A familiar baritone voice greeted Kenobi. "Padawan."
Qui-Gon was sitting on the couch, staring blankly at a book that rested on his lap. "Where have you been?"
"I needed a little air, went for a walk and talked to Taj for a bit. Are you okay master?" The young man took a seat in his favorite chair next to the end table.
"I am fine Obi-Wan. Why did you not tell me you were going out?" Qui-Gon's tone was one of concern rather than anger.
"I wasn't gone long master and I didn't wish to wake you."
"Thank you Obi-Wan, but I want you to tell me where you are going when you leave. If something happens to you..." He was stopped by the younger man.
"Nothing happened. I went to the gym and the Meditation Gardens. Master, I don't understand your actions as of late. You've never watched my every move as you have these past few weeks. I appreciate the fact that you are concerned, but I can almost assure you that nothing will happen to me during a routine trip to the gym." The words came out a bit more irritated than intended.
Obi-Wan hung his head. "I am sorry master. I didn't mean for that to sound as it did. But...I think you are being overprotective of me lately because of what happened with Master Keyla."
"I don't believe that is any of your business Obi-Wan."
This was it. The apprentice had no choice but to continue on. "It is my business master. You have changed. Others don't see it because you don't let them. I can see it. You're scared. Scared of losing me as you lost Keyla...or even Xanatos."
Qui-Gon shook his head. "This subject is closed padawan."
"You can say that all you want, but I am not going to let this go. I have given you my promise that if I ever need anyone, I will come to you. Can you not promise me the same?"
"I have given you that. But..."
Obi-Wan interrupted his thought. "But you do not abide by it. You need someone now master. I was turning my back on you by avoiding you. I refuse to do that any longer. We need to talk this out. I cannot live with you guarding my every step...my every action. I know we've spoken about Master Keyla's death and you had come to terms with it to an extent, but this is not over."
Taken aback by this sudden change in his apprentice, Qui-Gon was caught off-guard and fought for his words. "It is...it's over Obi-Wan. I...I don't..."
"No, it's not master." The apprentice softened his tone and sat next to his teacher. "I have never seen you this frightened. I am not Master Keyla. I will not choose the path she did. She was lost master. So lost she couldn't find her way home." He tried to recall Taj's words to him. "You tell me she was a coward in the way she dealt with this. I know you Qui-Gon, better than anyone. You didn't raise me to be afraid of my faults...of my fears. And I suspect you taught Keyla as you did me. She was brave, more so than most Jedi. As was her apprentice. But she became so lost, she was blinded in a way that no one could understand. It was something that haunted her, the death of her apprentice. She felt responsible, and it overwhelmed her mind and her heart." Obi-Wan took a deep breath before continuing. He had hit a nerve with Qui-Gon, yet the master sat quietly and listened.
"You remember how lonely you felt when Xanatos turned? How empty you were inside? You've shared those feelings with me. You spent years feeling sorry for yourself, thinking what you could have done differently. There was nothing you could have done. Nothing you could have said to him to bring him back. Keyla felt as you did. What did she do wrong? What didn't she do that could have saved her own student's life? It drove her beyond what her mind and soul could handle. Keyla Drass was no coward master." Allowing the words to settle in, Obi-Wan fell silent.
"I know Obi-Wan. She was one of the strongest and most courageous Jedi I have ever known. I don't know why this still hurts as much as it does. I..."
"She was your apprentice master. You raised her. And I know you loved her very much. It's a normal reaction. But you have to allow for healing, you cannot hide from your fears. Right now you are protecting me because that is what your heart tells you to do. Two lost students. There cannot be a third. Right?"
Qui-Gon distressing eyes found those of his young friend. "It's so hard to lose an apprentice. I only wish you never experience such pain."
Not knowing how to respond, Obi-Wan turned his gaze towards the book that Qui-Gon held in his lap. "A journal? I had no idea you kept one."
A small nod acknowledged the question. "Yes, I have since I first became a master. I was just...remembering."
To Obi-Wan, this was a chance to offer support for the older Jedi. He scooted closer to Qui-Gon, until they sat shoulder to shoulder. "What do you remember most about your time together master?"
A few small tears formed in Qui-Gon's deep blue eyes, as he felt the genuine love and concern flooding the bond he shared with his student. Obi-Wan was sincere in his questioning. He wanted to know more about Keyla Drass. He wanted to know about the time they spent together as master and apprentice.
"I'm not going anywhere master. For as long as you need someone, I am here. You know that. Now, tell me about Keyla. Was she as stubborn as I am? Cocky? Headstrong? Did she have my uncanny ability to resist commenting on the despise you show towards the Council?"
The padawan smiled as Qui-Gon suddenly erupted into a small fit of laughter. "I do despise them don't I?"
"That's putting it mildly."
"Keyla was so much like you Obi-Wan. You have no idea."
"Enlighten your apprentice Qui-Gon. Tell me about her. Were you as hard on her as you are on me?"
"Oh no my dear padawan, you have it easy. I could tell you some stories."
"I would like to hear them."
A sudden rush of pride fell over the Knight as he realized that Obi-Wan was offering him a chance to remember and to mend his broken soul. Drawing an arm around his apprentice, he pulled him close, and began to reminisce about what was no longer.
"Our first mission together...that was, interesting to say the least. Keyla was ten and thought she could defeat the galaxy with one swipe of her saber. It was a learning experience for us both. We had to oversee talks between the Reg and Dem parties on Talmos. A simple assignment...yet there was no love lost between these two groups. Anyway...Keyla makes her presence known as soon as we entered the Court House...announcing to the people of Talmos that she was a Jedi and that..."
As Qui-Gon began evoking images of times past, Obi-Wan could only sit and listen to the memories that his master recalled. Through the night, they sat together...side by side. Laughing...crying...remembering.
Into the early morning hours, Qui-Gon was rambling on about the final mission that he shared with his first apprentice. He was so intent on the telling of the story, that it was a while before he noticed the slight burden leaning against his shoulder. Glancing sideways, he saw Obi-Wan curled up next to him, snoring quietly...sound asleep. Qui-Gon tightened his arm around the smaller Jedi once more and held him close.
"Thank you padawan."
Feeling the weight of the past month descending into his subconsciousness, the older man fell back against the cushions and slowly drifted off into a peaceful slumber. One arm secure around his padawan, the other holding the journal of his past...and a lifetime of memories. At long last, he was content.