Title: The Gardener

Author: Aelan Greenleaf

Category: Drama

Rating: PG/K+

Summary: A TPM AU. A gardener rescues a Jedi Master. (Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Anakin)

Chapter One: The Gardener and His Garden

It was amazing, how beautiful the new morning was. The twin suns of the solar system shone down their light onto the planet, warming the ground and the air. The usual wind had weakened into a mild breeze, and the clouds were no where in sight. People began to emerge from their domiciles, moving in the light, going about their day.

And he, the Gardener, went out to his garden.

He smiled to himself as he walked, nodding to those that passed by. His garden was not truly a garden; it was more a mosaic of plants and trees and flowers. It was an immense patch of land, upon which many things grew, things that were used for sustenance and for healing. Some grew beautiful and colourful, some grew with arms outstretched for the stars, some grew thorny and ugly, but he loved them all.

Entering the main complex, he grabbed his tools and jumpsuit, and quickly moved back outside onto the field. The others were already outside, the many of them, caretakers all the same. They waved to him as he walked; he waved back. Men and women, young and old, alien and human; the AgriCorps was anything but selective. Most were Force-sensitive, and were either not powerful enough in the Force for the Jedi or not chosen as a Padawan as younglings.

Except, of course, for the Gardener.

In essence, everyone in Ward Alpha was a gardener, but there was only one Gardener. It was a nickname he had acquired not long after his arrival on Paos II, given to him by his new co-workers. He had been on-world mere hours, when they had asked him to heal a dying plant in Ward Beta. Rare and very old, the gardienne plant was the only source of the antidote for the Paos Flu. And it was dying.

It had barely taken him a minute, and those around him had been in complete shock. Touching the plant softly and gently, there had been a brilliant flash of light, and when they all looked back, the plant was in bloom, flowering and as red as the dying sun. And so, the Gardener he became.

He reached his section of the field, and began his work. Some would call it boring, uneventful, but he knew better. As a new worker, he too had found it monotonous and pointless, but the truth was, he was helping to feed and to cure the millions of people across the galaxy. By simply growing and caring for a life-form, he was able to contribute so much to the world around him. His work made him proud and happy.

The day passed quickly, as he passed through his rounds, feeding the trees and flowers, and healing the ill. Soon the twin suns had begun their eventual crash into the horizon, and he headed back to the complex, and to home.

Just like the morning had started, the day ended. People returned to their homes, to their spouses and to their offspring, laughing and talking and playing. The Gardener entered his home, and found the boy waiting for him.

"How was your day?" the child asked, blue eyes beaming.

He smiled back. "Wonderful. And yours? School is going well?"

The boy put his hands together happily. "I got top place in the Tech Competition!"

"So the robot worked?"

"Droid. He's a droid." he corrected, through his expression of pleasure never changed.

"Ah, yes. I could never tell the difference." The Gardener grinned. "Shall we eat?"

"I'm starving."

And the two entered the dining room, completely unaware that at the very same time, a shuttle was burning through the darkening atmosphere of Paos II, shooting down towards the ground below. A shuttle carrying someone who would change their lives forever.

Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi began their dinner, oblivious, as the tiny ship began its' crash into the cooling soil.