TITLE: Put Your Hand in Mine
AUTHOR: Zenna
E-MAIL: obiwan_padawan@hotmail.com
RATING: PG
CATEGORY: Star Wars
SPOILERS: Does it really matter anymore? Um...
SUMMARY: Five words can bind three Jedi, two moreso than the last.

DISCLAIMER: I wish they were mine, but they're not. Thankfully, I'm sure, to some people. Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Anakin all belong to the all ighty allor, or Master Lucas. Based, roughly, upon the song by the same title, sung by Tracy Bryd. Beyond that, it's tough beans. Took me a day to piece this together, and it probably sucks. But tell me what you think, because it doesn't matter what my opinion is. Cheers!

###

The boy sat in the waiting room for the council chamber. The knight that left him there had told him to wait. He would be dealt with soon. The boy had said that it wasn't his fault, it was Bruck's. Bruck had done it, not him. The said they'd sort it all out later, and Bruck would be dealt with in his own way.

The young Jedi didn't like waiting, nor getting in trouble. He would loose special privileges if he got all of the blame put on him for the trouble. He lifted the clay cast up from the seat beside him. He had no where to put it, and had been hauled off here so quickly he didn't have time to put it away.

The living Force exercise had turned sour when Bruck had pushed the boy into a cart full of clay, making it spill all over the floor. Bruck and he had been taken to speak with the teacher of the class, while the boy was sent here to speak with a Master. This was far worse then having to speak with the teacher.

At least he didn't have to speak to the council. It was a waste of their time, and he would have to settle for a single Master. He hoped it to be Master Yoda. He had put favors to the boy in the past. He sighed, and let his hand go back to the clay.

His clay had dried in the time he had sat here. It was already almost dry when he had left, but still it made him feel like he had sat here for an eternity. He squirmed in his seat, and tried to keep himself busy by putting his hand, like the teacher had shown, and trying to feel the living Force trace he had left.

This was one of the basic steps of learning to feel the living Force, and how everything living was connected by it, and left traces of it wherever they touched or were. A Jedi's Force trace was stronger. The boy had lived with his Force trace all his life, but still had some trouble finding his vestige. It was there, and he had to focus to find it. He closed his eyes, and tried to find it again, but the sudden opening of the council doors surprised him, and he jumped to his feet.

A large Jedi had exited from the chamber. His face looked angry, but as his blue eyes found the boy, he turned it calm. He gave the boy a questioning look.

"Little one, what are you doing here?" The Jedi let the door close behind him, and approached the boy. The younger Jedi had taken his seat again. This wasn't the Master sent to punish him. This looked like a Jedi who had just been punished himself.

"Waiting," he replied. "I hate it."

The Master chuckled. "You should learn some patience then. What are you waiting for?"

The boy kept the mold on his lap, as the second Jedi sat in the seat beside him. "For some one to tell me what I'm doing wrong, and ask why. But I didn't do it. That'll only get me in more trouble. I'll end up cleaning the tiles of the mess hall for weeks."

"It sounds like you've done that before. Tell me, what didn't you do?"

"He pushed me, and then I hit the tray. He denied having anything to do with it. He always makes fun of me I…." The boy started to pout, but then though better of it. "I…I'm sorry. I'm acting like a baby. You don't need to care."

The Jedi master leaned back in his seat. "Do you want to know why I'm here?"

The boy looked up. "If you want to tell me."

"I'm here to get an apprentice, but I can't seem to find one that suits me. The council doesn't like this very much." He smirked lightly on the last comment, causing the boy to raise an eyebrow.

"It's your choice." He shrugged.

"I suppose it is." the Jedi looked back to the younger occupant of the room, and grinned. "Do you know where they're sending me since I cannot agree to a learner?"

"Some where bad?" The boy smirked.

"Quite right, actually. To Tatooine, to help an attempt at convincing the government to join the Republic. This is on a request from a neighboring planet, who hate their neighbors so much, that they are making them submit to something they do not even understand." He trailed off, seeming to not see the logic in his assignment.

"I didn't know Tatooine had a government." The boy responded, running his finger around his hand's imprint in the clay.

"It doesn't, that's what makes the whole thing futile. I might as well just day here, and clean tiles with you." He looked up, and saw what the boy had on his lap. "What is that?"

"A living Force exercise. We're to feel for our Force signatures. I'm not doing so well." He sighed. "This is just one bad day."

The master reached out a hand. "May I?"

The boy shrugged. "Sure."

The older Jedi's hand seemed to engulf the small imprint in the clay. The boy sat there, wide eyed, suddenly realizing how small he seemed to the large man. He sat back in his seat, and saw the master close his eyes. He opened them moments later, and handed the mold back to the boy.

"You're signature is there, you just have to feel with the Force, and not your hand. I suspect that you are feeling in the physical realm, and not with your extra sense. Look beyond what you see, and feel the Force behind it. Have you learnt that yet?"

The boy shook his head. "We've only learnt to look for things in the Force, not the other way around."

"Then you're ahead of your class, aren't you?" he smirked lightly.

The boy sat silently. He looked at the cast, and put his hand. He could feel the strong trace left by the Jedi master. He looked past it, and tried to find himself. Yes, there he was. He recognized the signature.

"I found it. I did it." He looked up and grinned.

"I knew you could. Just have some confidence in yourself." The Master shifted his weight, and moved as if to stand. "I would enjoy talking to you all day, but I've got enough problems with the council today. I don't need to be reported late by the cruiser captain."

"Wait," the boy didn't want him to leave, "when you get there, are you going to have a..a… cooling unit? Tatooine get's very hot. You should have one."

He kind of laughed. "I guess I will."

The boy looked from the mold to the master. "Here. Put your hand in mine, and I'll be there anytime when it feels like you could use a friend. I'll be there to lift you up again. You can reach out to me, anytime. And put your hand in mine."

The Jedi Master didn't move for a moment, he just looked at the boy silently. The boy wasn't sure if he'd except the off-gray mold, and regretted his decision to ask. He was surprised when the Jedi took the mold in hand. He smiled, softly. "How did you know I was in need of a friend?"

The boy was caught off guard. "You seem to have no one. After all, you talked to me."

The Master said nothing, he just looked from the boy's green eyes, to the tiny fingers of what he held in his hand. They looked so small.

"Just remember, you don't have to be alone." The boy said, finally breaking the silence.

"And neither do you." He replied, then started to walk away.

The boy traced his real hand now, and wondered what the rest of the day would bring. And if he would ever meet the man again.

###

"Going? Where are you going?"

"Away." Obi-Wan Kenobi's response was cold at best. Anakin Skywalker, newly accepted as a learner, had pulled himself up onto the bed on which Obi-Wan was packing whatever he felt he needed. After all, he wasn't wanted here anymore.

"Aren't you going to say goodbye to Qui-Gon? He'll be back soon, and I don't think that he'll like it when he find you gone."

The name stung Obi-Wan momentarily. "I already said goodbye. I will not be far, anyhow. Just in another room."

Anakin stared at him, his blue eyes cutting through the older Jedi's reserve. Obi-Wan looked away, and shoved a tunic into the bag. "But if you leave then that means you…You can't go, you're his Padawan."

"Ani, no," Obi-Wan tried not to get angry, but found himself crossing into those waters again. "Not anymore."

"But the Masters said…"

"I don't care what the Masters said." Obi-Wan interrupted. The council had allowed Anakin to accompany Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan on their next mission as a student of the Jedi. He would become a Padawan learner when the time was right, until then he would remain a student, and learn from Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. But Obi-Wan had thought otherwise.

"So you're just leaving, because you can't stand me." Anakin said. Obi-Wan paused, and finally turned to look at him.

"No, I…It's not because of you. I just don't feel needed here, or wanted. I'm near knighthood, and learn what I need to pass the trials at the Temple. If Qui-Gon will not teach me then I guess I'm not needed." He replied, he felt the words sounded selfish the moment they left his mouth, but didn't retract them. Qui-Gon had told him, before he had left, that if he expected Obi-Wan to make the decision for himself, and not have to agree with the resolution Qui-Gon had chosen for the both of them. This was his way of making the decision.

Anakin raised a brow. "It's not like that. He's going to teach you, but I'll be there."

But I'll just be learning things I already know, and we'll work at a slower pace. We'll have to repeat things for you, and have to stop and explain everything. Qui-Gon will have to take time out of my teachings to teach you…The words wanted to pour from Obi-Wan's mouth, but he stopped himself from saying anything. "Anakin, you have no business being here. Please leave."

"Wait, I have something for you." Anakin reached for the package he had some in with, and started to unwrap it. Obi-Wan didn't have time to sit and watch the boy take the paper off a piece of whatever that he'd probably found in the junkyard, and found it of some value. He just wanted to get away, and think. In a room of his own.

"Here."

Obi-Wan felt his breath catch in his throat. It was a round piece of clay, with a tiny hand print in the center of it. He slowly took the object from Anakin's giving hand. "When did you…"

"With Master Jinn earlier today, before he left. He told me that I should get to know you, since we'd be working together and all. I guess that since you're leaving, I…"

"I haven't seen something like this since I was younger than you." He felt his voice slow. Was it? The memory echoed in the back of his mind. Had it been? He glided his hand over the smooth surface, and then fall over the imprint. He saw Anakin smile out of the corner of his eye.

"See? Put your hand in mine, and I'll be there anytime when it feels like you could use a friend. I'll be there to lift you up again. You can reach out to me, anytime. And put your hand in mine."

Obi-Wan swallowed, as he felt Ani's living Force in the tiny hand print. He was strong in the Force, and left a strong signature. Obi-Wan suddenly realized that what he was doing hurt both Anakin and Qui-Gon. It was selfish of him to hurt these people. He shook his head, and shook away the thought.

He'd sleep on it, he decided. The next morning he'd make the decision concrete.

"Thank-you." He finally replied, and picked up his bag, and turned to leave, still holding the tiny hand print, and hearing the words echo over again in his ears. This time, and the time before. He was so hell-bent on leaving earlier, and now he felt his steps slowing. Maybe he should wait until Qui-Gon got back.

###

Qui-Gon Jinn wasn't about to go find Obi-Wan. He was close, still in the Temple, but by the time he had returned from the errand, it was late. He found only Anakin sitting in the Temple quarters. He half-listened to Anakin's explanation, but understood that he had damaged Obi-Wan's pride when he had stood up for Anakin at the initial council hearing. But Obi-Wan wasn't that stubborn to harm them both in this way? The Jedi Master felt his stomach turn, and went to bed early that night. It was Obi-Wan's decision to make, not his.

Anakin was feeling bad as well. When he told Qui-Gon about what he had given to Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon went back in time. He had excused Ani, and went in a hurried search for the form that had been given him so many years earlier. He had always cherished it, and when he had asked Obi-Wan to be his learner, he knew whose tiny hand print it was.

The question of why swirled in his head as he placed the old clay on the shelve next to his bed. Qui-Gon had thought that he and Obi-Wan had resolved the misunderstanding of Anakin earlier. Obi-Wan had agreed, and didn't say anything.

Had he been hiding his feelings, then? Or was this the truth?

Qui-Gon sat, meditating, on the question, when Anakin spoke.

"That look's like the one I made." He picked the hand print off the table, and put his hand in the shape on the round tablet. Qui-Gon's eyes had opened, and watched Anakin fit his hand inside.

"Is this yours? I can feel your trace here." Anakin asked.

Qui-Gon shook his head, then sidestepped the question. "You should be getting to sleep, Anakin. We've got a busy day tomorrow."

Anakin nodded, putting the imprint back on the table, and crawled into his own bed. Qui-Gon opened his eyes, and stood. So much, Obi-Wan. Why?

He wasn't going to sleep. He needed to clear his mind, but he moved into his own bed anyhow. The lights dimmed to nothing, and he could only hear his breathing, and Anakin's. He just simply sat there, staring at the ceiling. Was Anakin worth all this, to loose Obi-Wan?

He felt the presence standing outside the door, before he heard the knock. Qui-Gon practically jumped out of his bed to reach the button that would open the door. He knew.

He barely had time to smile a greeting when he was met with an embrace from Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon felt slightly stunned, but returned the show of affection. Obi-Wan gently pulled away, his young face worn with regret and worry.

"Master, I couldn't even stay one night. I'm sorry, it was selfish of me to leave, and I..I hope it's not too late." He looked up, not knowing what he would see in his master's eyes. He only found forgiveness.

"It would never have been too late, my Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon smiled warmly. He reached out, and grasped Obi-Wan's hand lightly. "Put your hand in mine, and I'll be here all the time. When it feels like you could use a friend, I'll be here to lift you up again. Would you reach out to me one more time?"

Obi-Wan felt all of the self repentance wash away from the uneasy day he had felt. He squeezed the larger man's hand, and smiled. "I've never wanted to more. I'm so sorry Master, to you and Anakin."

"It was not just your fault," Qui-Gon gradually replied. "I thought that you were…"

Obi-Wan caught Anakin out of the corner of his eye, and found the boy smiling. Qui-Gon saw Obi-Wan's wandered gaze, and glanced over his shoulder. Then they looked back to each other. They both realized at the same time that they were standing there, holding hands, and released. Obi-Wan reached down for his discarded bag, and lifted it up.

"Do I still have a bed here?" He asked, lightheartedly.

"Yes." Qui-Gon replied.

Obi-Wan took a step inside, the paused, "Did you mean it?"

Qui-Gon knew it wasn't a set up for a joke, "Yes, Padawan, I meant it. I'll be here for you, as you were for me."

Obi-Wan's eyes caught the old imprint sitting on the side table, and smiled. "You kept it, after all these years?"

Qui-Gon nodded. "I need a friend every now and again."

Obi-Wan put his bag on the floor, and grasped Qui-Gon's hand again. "Everyone does."

End