Title: A Passing Affair
Summary: Siri visits Obi-Wan shortly after the events of TPM.
A/N: Written as a Knighting present for my Padawan, Jedikma. :)
Feedback is, as always and ever and ever, appreciated and adored. :)
Siri had decided years earlier that this particular garden in the Jedi Temple did not deserve the name; it was practically a jungle. Thick leaves, thin leaves, flowers and vines all vied for the same space, overflowing into everything, including – it felt like – Siri's breathing air. This garden had been planted by throwing seeds, and letting them grow . . . and grow. All the gardeners ever tried to do was keep it somewhat within its boundaries; anything else was unfathomable.
She didn't know, really, why she hadn't looked here first.
This had been Qui-Gon's favorite garden.
She was definitely going to have welts by the time she found Obi-Wan. Every time she thought she was getting close to Obi-Wan, some plant would get in her way and put her off track. It was getting beyond exasperating. Siri huffed out a breath, not quite willing to mutter her thoughts. How did anyone go here to meditate?
After another branch hit her in the face, swinging out of nowhere, Siri finally stopped, concluding it was time to take a break. She decided that getting through this monstrosity should be a required course for Padawans. It certainly felt like one of old Master Jen's survival courses.
"Siri?" Obi-Wan's voice floated from nowhere.
"Obi-Wan?" Siri returned, surprised, trying to see through the thick jungle. She jumped when something touched her arm unexpectedly, whirling – and seeing Obi-Wan. "You were closer than I expected," Siri said wryly, trying to wave at the surrounding plants in explanation, but only succeeding in smacking her hand into an unexpectedly hard trunk. She winced.
Obi-Wan smiled slightly. He took her hand. "Come on," was all he said.
Siri nodded, tightening her grip on his hand and following him as he began to move through the jungle. He moved much more quickly than Siri had, finding little paths Siri had never seen. He looked calm, almost completely normal, but the lack of a Padawan braid was throwing that first impression off. It sent a quiver through her, reminding her of her own Padawan status, still. It was hard to believe that there was now this gap between them. Not to mention what Master Adi had suggested as her Trial.
"You're familiar with this place?" Siri asked finally, noting their rapid progress.
"Somewhat," Obi-Wan said easily, not turning. "That, and I think . . . Qui-Gon's repeated attempts at trying to thump the Living Force into my skull. I can feel the pathways," he said softly, slowing for a moment.
"I'm sorry," Siri said quietly.
He squeezed her hand, but said nothing.
He led them into a small clearing Siri would never have expected existed. She had no idea where they were in relation to the rest of the little jungle, and the Temple, but here in this little spot there was a small pond with flat boulders surrounding it. She could hear the water faintly tinkling. Obi-Wan wrapped his cloak around his body tightly, and sat down on one of the boulders gracefully. He looked up at her.
"Qui-Gon came here a lot," he said simply.
Siri nodded, not knowing what to say. She paused uncomfortably, and then sat opposite him, folding her legs comfortably, her cloak settling around her. "So this is where you've been?" she asked. "I've been looking for you for a while. Days, really, but the Council kept putting me off," she added, still slightly miffed.
Obi-Wan shrugged slightly. "The Council felt it would be best if I had a few days to myself, at the Temple. I had Anakin to take care of on Naboo. And with Qui-Gon's death, my Knighting . . ."
Siri felt a surge of guilt for being so persistent when Obi-Wan was clearly still grieving, which she quickly damped. "Oh."
"Yeah," Obi-Wan said. He lifted his hand, running his hand through his still spiky hair, brushing the spot behind his ear where his Padawan braid had lain.
"Well . . ." Siri searched for words. "Despite everything, congratulations."
Obi-Wan smiled, a small one that said it was really all he could manage to her courtesy. "Thanks." He paused, looking at the pond. "I guess you were wrong. I was Knighted before you." He met her eyes, some real amusement finally reaching his blue eyes.
Siri smiled, overjoyed, as she had certainly not expected to be at losing their bet about which would reach Knighthood first. "Yeah, you did." She laughed softly. "Decided what your prize is going to be? Keep in mind, you outrank me now, so no taking advantage," she said, shaking her head at him mockingly.
He raised an eyebrow, giving her a considering expression. "Why, Siri. I had no idea."
"Shut up, Obi-Wan," Siri retorted with a flash of amused irritation, flushing at his unexpectedly aware response.
They fell silent once again. Siri kept her gaze on him, not feeling uncomfortable at all doing so. He had aged since she had seen him last. That had been some time ago, well before the mission to Naboo, but the aging didn't seem to be so much physical. His eyes had changed. Always blue, they now seemed more gray. They had always shifted with his mood, but this seemed different. Like this wasn't going to go away.
"Siri?" Obi-Wan whispered, staring into her eyes.
"Yes?" She kept her voice gentle.
He shook his head and looked away. "I don't – I mean – you're still a Padawan, you haven't gone through this yet, but . . ." His face twisted briefly, showing grief, then quickly smoothing out.
"I'll do my best," Siri murmured, taking one of his hands. She dropped her gaze, trying to make this easy for him, whatever this was. His hands were callused, as much as hers were, but she saw faint bruises. From the battle? Had his lightsaber been kicked out of his hand? She felt her pulse quicken, then immediately repressed that reaction. It was hard to truly realize what Obi-Wan had done in killing that Sith, the pure reality of it.
"I don't feel like a Knight," Obi-Wan said plainly.
Siri looked up. He was looking at her. "I'm sure that will come with time," Siri offered.
"I guess I expected it to be more sudden," he said quietly. "The realization of what a Jedi truly is, of what I am, of how those two things meet. I know . . ." He stopped again. "I learned in that battle," he said, voice rough. "How close the Darkness truly is. And how far away the Light can be."
Siri shook her head, confused. "The Light is always –"
Obi-Wan shook his head, but it was abrupt tightening of his grip on her hands that interrupted her speaking, almost painful. "Perhaps it was I, who was far away from it." He smiled, but it looked almost grotesque, twisted and unfamiliar. "I made my decision in Darkness."
"Not to say that I am Dark," Obi-Wan said with forced calm. "But I did not have the Light, when I made the decision not to give in. When I reached inside myself to find the determination to kill that creature. The Force did not help me," he added, slightly gentle, slightly firm. Something – unknowable showed in his eyes. His grip was tight. "It was a decision I had to make."
Siri tried to control her breathing. "Obi-Wan, you're hurting me," she said evenly.
He let go of her hands, immediately dropping his gaze. "I am sorry."
Siri shook her head, cursing herself. "Don't be." She took a deep breath. "Maybe you should –"
Siri shot him a look of exasperation, though he wasn't looking at her to see it. "Obi-Wan, at least consider talking to one of the Masters. Even the Council, if this connects to the Sith."
Obi-Wan shook his head. "The Sith is another issue entirely," he said. "I don't know. Maybe you'll understand what I mean, someday." He seemed to draw away from her, distant and yet strangely acquiescent to the turn of the conversation.
Feeling this was not settled, but not knowing what to do about it, Siri nodded. "Maybe." She wanted to tell him that maybe that day would be soon, if this undercover mission went planned, and she succeeded. But even Obi-Wan couldn't know about it. She would have to start building the roots of it soon, dissatisfaction with the Jedi, growing anger. It occurred to her, with a sense of shame, that this would be a good opportunity for that.
Obi-Wan breathed deeply. "Why did you want to talk to me?" he asked, changing the subject.
Siri shrugged. "To offer my condolences. To see how you are, if there's anything I can do to help."
Obi-Wan didn't answer for a moment. "Don't politely make comments about my taking a Padawan so young, how you're there for guidance –" He began smiling.
Siri laughed. "You must get that a lot. Is Anakin doing well?"
Obi-Wan nodded. "He misses his mother, but he loves it here. I think he believes we're a little repressed, which maybe we are," he added with a slight smirk, "but he's fascinated by most everything."
"He sounds like a good boy," Siri offered.
"He is," Obi-Wan said softly, mercurial eyes calm with affection.
"Even if he'll end up a little repressed," Siri teased.
Obi-Wan smiled. It was tempered by other things, but he smiled.
"Which reminds me," Siri added. "Your prize. Any ideas?" She raised an eyebrow.
Obi-Wan shrugged. "We were fifteen when we made that bet. I didn't really think either of us would follow through. So I really don't know."
"Really? I would have expected you to give me my prize," Siri said matter-of-factly, folding her arms in a posture of fierceness.
"You would," Obi-Wan retorted. They smiled at each other. "You pick," Obi-Wan suggested.
"Well, I could clean up your quarters, as disgusting as that would probably be . . ." Siri began.
"I already had to, but thanks," Obi-Wan said, the amusement fading a little. Siri could have slapped herself. Obi-Wan would be moving into new quarters, for him and Anakin. She suspected, though, that such little reminders would be common for a while.
"You're not making this easy," Siri said reprovingly, ignoring the sadness for the moment.
Obi-Wan just smiled. "Good."
"I know," Siri whispered, staring into his eyes, sudden dangerous, exhilarating impulse overtaking her. He cocked his head slightly, waiting. "Just keep in mind you still outrank me," she added lightly.
She leaned forward, closing her eyes, and kissed him. He went completely still, though Siri felt his breathing quicken. Then he pushed back, hesitantly. She opened her mouth, and so did he. And it was give and take, the smooth way they met, the way only that part of their bodies touched. He was so warm, so responsive, she felt the urge to take it further, to touch elsewhere . . .
But she drew away.
She saw Obi-Wan slowly open his eyes, expression unreadable. Then he smiled, still warmly hesitant. "Probably not what I would have picked, but perfect all the same," he whispered.
Siri nodded, not willing to speak. Such a breaking from the path they had chosen – she hadn't truly expected it of herself. And this, how would this look, later? As another step onto a path to becoming Zora, to appearing to leave the Jedi? But it wasn't that. No matter what Obi-Wan thought, later. That kiss had been for her. And him.
"Good," Siri said at last.
Obi-Wan exhaled roughly, drawing away still a little more, regaining control. Siri matched his reaction. There was a gentle sadness in his eyes now, but no questions, as she was sure there were in hers. What next? What now? He already seemed to know the answers, even as he had awkwardly confessed his feelings on being Knighted, and had the answers himself – ones she had not understood. Maybe she would, after Zora. When she was Knighted. Then she could ease this gap.
"Thank you for coming for me," Obi-Wan said, smiling again.
Siri nodded. "Ready to go out and face the world?" she asked, mouth quirking.
"I think so," Obi-Wan said, rising. He held out a hand for her, and somewhat to her own surprise, she took it without any reservations, letting him help her up.
"Let's go," she said, taking a step off the boulder. Obi-Wan followed, and then stopped her after a moment with a touch to her shoulder.
"Maybe I should lead us out?" he suggested, laughter in his eyes.
Siri smiled ruefully. "Lead the way, Knight Kenobi."