Title: Candles Against the Sea
Author: Laura of Maychoria
Category: Angst, Drama (age 13)
Summary: It is several months after Melida/Daan, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon have been working to re-establish their bond. It's been going well. Qui-Gon seems perfectly satisfied. But Obi-Wan is not . . . .
Rating: PG (violence)
Spoilers: Early JA novels, possibly.
Disclaimer: Not mine, making no money, blah blih-blih blah. I'm just borrowing a couple of my favorite people from Uncle George. The others are mine—ask to borrow.

Candles Against the Sea
Chapter1: Frustration

"Master, may I go for a walk? Outside?"

Qui-Gon looked up from the datapad he was studying. "We're in the downtown district of the most dangerous city on Sylelius."

Obi-Wan did his utmost not to fidget where he stood. "Yes, Master."

Qui-Gon waited, one eyebrow lifted.

Obi-Wan sighed. "But . . ."

The older Jedi nodded in satisfaction. "Yes, I knew the 'but' was coming."

"Yes, Master. But Ambassador Grenik did say that it isn't all that bad, really, and that Jedi are revered here, so we're very unlikely to encounter any trouble, at least not from the citizenry."

Qui-Gon leaned back against the plush couch he sat on. "Obi-Wan, you are thirteen years old."

"And I am a Jedi."

Qui-Gon waited.

"Please, Master, I just want to get out for a little fresh air. I feel . . . a bit stifled."

The austere Master allowed a smile at that, the flesh around his eyes crinkling in deep amusement. "Padawan, you've been all but bouncing off the walls everywhere we go. You were ready to fly apart at a touch. I didn't dare put my hand on your shoulder for fear you'd explode and we'd never collect all the pieces."

Was that really why Qui-Gon hadn't touched his shoulder for so many days? Obi-Wan shook it off, trying to contain his dismay. "Was I that obvious, Master? I truly did my best not to be disrespectful . . ."

"No, Obi-Wan, you weren't obvious. I doubt anyone noticed besides me. Still, I could tell that your control was becoming a bit . . . strained."

Obi-Wan nodded, his shoulders slumping in defeat. Qui-Gon would probably make him stay in now, do some extra meditation and concentration exercises. He obviously needed the practice.

Qui-Gon closed his eyes, and the Padawan knew that he was reaching out with his awareness, listening to the Force. It always impressed him, how easily Qui-Gon was able to fall into a light trance, finding answers, while it took Obi-Wan hours and hours of meditation to reach the same state. Another skill he desperately wanted to learn from his Master, but feared he would never reach.

The Jedi Master opened his eyes. "I don't sense any danger, at least not to you, a thirteen-year-old Jedi." He smiled warmly, and Obi-Wan felt his spirits lift a bit in response. "The Force is telling me to let you go. You need the fresh air, I know. We were cooped up in that little transport ship for far too long, and you are young."

"Thank you, Master. I'll be careful, I promise."

Qui-Gon nodded. "Don't wander more than five or six blocks from the hotel, all right? Go on, Obi-Wan, cool yourself off a bit."

Obi-Wan bowed and departed, letting out a breath in relief once he was outside their suite, standing in the hall of the posh hotel. He wondered why it felt like he had just escaped from imprisonment. Had it really become so unbearable in such a short amount of time?

Yes, it had, he decided, hurrying down the hall to the lift. Once on the first floor, he all but ran across the marble floor of the lobby, narrowly missing collision with a valet, and burst into the cool late afternoon of downtown Reshifc.

He closed his eyes and let the breeze wash over him, taking some of the flush from his cheeks. Then he started walking briskly down the street, taking time to pull his mental shields up tight, and finally let it all pour out into his conscious mind. Sith, it hurt.

The pressure had been building inside him for a couple of weeks now, just growing and growing until he really might have exploded if he hadn't gotten a chance to work it out in his mind. He was mildly surprised that he had survived it for this long. Force, there was just so much . . .

Gingerly, he dared to prod the mess with a mental finger, attempting to sort out the tangled emotions and thoughts that he had kept bottled up for such a long time. Fear, guilt, shame, longing, heartache, confusion. Questions he didn't dare ask and couldn't answer himself. And most of all, frustration. Even with all this excess energy crackling about him like a storm ready to break, his spirit was tired, tired to the very depths, as if he had been pushing against an unyielding wall with all of his strength until his arms simply buckled and he fell to the ground.

What was wrong with him? He had to figure out the central question, then he could work outward and lay it all to rest, hopefully without going insane. And without going to Qui-Gon. He couldn't go to Qui-Gon with this.

Because it was all about Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan closed his eyes briefly, an involuntary moan escaping his lips in the barest breath of air. Something was definitely wrong with him. They were getting along. Their bond was strong and vibrant—they could even speak across it, sometimes, if the need was great. Obi-Wan knew that many Master-Padawan teams never developed their connection that far. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were getting on well—they trusted each other, worked together as a unified team, even enjoyed each other's company during their rare moments of relaxation. To all signs and purposes, they had a wonderful working relationship.

So why was Obi-Wan frustrated and confused? What had changed for him, weeks ago? He paused for a traffic signal and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to remember. He could not recall a specific incident that brought this on—the feeling had simply crept up on him. This feeling of dissatisfaction, of stalemate, of longing for, for . . .

For what? Somebody jostled the Padawan's arm, and he started, eyes flying open. The signal was green. Slowly he crossed, head down, pondering. He supposed he really ought to be observing the populace. They had come here on a mission of observation and information: the government of this Outer Rim planet, Sylelius, was considering joining the Republic, and they had asked for a representative to visit. The Senate had also asked the Jedi to report on whether the planet seemed ready for this step. If Obi-Wan had thought of it, he might have used the need for observation as an argument in favor of this walk.

But he hadn't, and he wasn't paying much attention now, anyway, too caught-up in his private struggle. Sylelius seemed like a decent world—no slavery, no blatant corruption, a moderate poverty percentage and crime rate, pretty average for planets this size. They were getting along well as a sovereign world, but Obi-Wan supposed that they simply wanted more.

Wanted more. That was it. He wanted more. Obi-Wan's step faltered and he stopped walking, a still rock in the stream of pedestrians that flowed around him, heading home from work or shopping. Why in the galaxy did he want more? Why couldn't he be happy with what he had? Force, what was wrong with him?

Qui-Gon was the perfect Master—caring, dutiful, trusting, wise, strong, even affectionate at times, teaching without oppressing, instilling discipline without unnecessary sternness. He was happy with their relationship, with Obi-Wan's progress, with everything. All the unhappiness was in Obi-Wan, and it had no cause, nothing to justify it. Just this silly, inarticulate longing. He wanted Qui-Gon to be more than a Master, a teacher, or even a friend. He wanted . . .

Force, he wanted a father. Obi-Wan clenched his fists, swaying a bit where he stood. He was such a fool. Numbly, he started walking again.

Where did that word come from? Why had he even thought it? Father. The word meant nothing. Jedi did not have family, or rather, all Jedi were family, to each other. Everyone who had taught him was like a mother or a father, and every initiate and Padawan he had learned with was like a brother or a sister. So where did this yearning come from?

And here came the guilt and shame. It was foolish of him to have these longings, wasn't it? Childish and immature and utterly, utterly stupid. This heart-craving would not, could not be satisfied. Was it wrong to even feel this way?

Unexpected tears stung Obi-Wan's eyelids, and he pushed them back with a disdainful sniff. It probably was wrong. He was probably committing some sin against the Force. But he had no idea how to atone for it.

Because the longing wasn't going away. Even now that he had brought it out into the light and identified it, untangled all the things he'd instinctively been packing away behind his deepest shields for weeks, even now, it wasn't fading. If anything, the craving had intensified now that he knew what it was.

Despair beginning to steal icy fingers around his heart, Obi-Wan continued walking into the fading sunlight.

Author's Note: Yeah, okay, so you've probably already figured out where this is going.I know that this story has been written before, many, many times, by a number of very talented writers. The whole story of how Qui and Obi deepen their relationship from the boring, work-a-day master/apprentice relationship of the books to the vibrant, wonderful father/son relationship we all know and love from good fanfic. It could almost be a genre itself. This is merely my version of how it may have happened, which I'm hoping to complete with a minimum of Obi-torture. (Not that I dislike Obi-torture. It's just . . . been done.) Don't worry though, there will be lots of angst. Bunches and tons and truckloads of angst. Nothing good ever happens to these two without a little suffering, be it physical, mental, or spiritual.