Rating: R
Setting: Coruscant, lower levels
Summary: Obi-Wan meets someone a bit outside of his normal circle of friends and aquaintances.
Author: : Mian Chardion
Warnings: This has NOT been betaed. Sorry.
**Standard warnings apply. I didn't invent these characters which sucks but I am grateful to Mr. Lucas for doing so. I'm not making a profit (which makes this a lot like my job), just having fun (NOT like my job).****

Midnight at the Lost and Found by: Mian Chardion

On the surface, Coruscant was never in darkness. The streets were never empty, the shops never closed. On the surface, the entire planet was abuzz with activity any hour of any day and had been that way for centuries. Glittery signs pointed the way to equally pretentious restarants that served meals to a variety of species regardless of the time, weather, or political climate. From space one would have to wonder where any being could find rest, sleep, or even meditation on such a planet. On the surface, Coruscant appeared to be the type of place where no one could hide from their demons - the bright lights would not allow illusion. But that was only on the surface. Coruscant was a place of many layers and within these layers there was certainly a place for a man to hide. For the past, from the truth, from himself if he so chose. Anyone who had spent any amount of time on Coruscant hide their own place to which to escape. Obi-Wan Kenobi's favorite spot was about seven or eight stories below the surface, a dark dank hole of a place that few, if any, Jedi before him had ever seen. He like it that way. A place where he would meet no one he knew, no one who knew him.

In a bar filled with the stinch of what passed as life to the outcasts of society, a lone Jedi did not cause so much as a raised eyebrow or tentacle, or sensory spot. He sat a sipped at whatever the bartender had put down in front of him and thought. He'd put Anakin to sleep hours ago and even if the boy awoke, which he never did, there would be other padawans in the room to reassure him. Obi-Wan duty to the boy were, temporarily, put aside. Whatever mistakes he'd made with Ani's trainning he could but contemplate and hope he did not repeat. Most of the time, at this place, he diverted his thoughts from the boy and concentrated on other distressing subjects. His Master, the future, his abilities.

"Can I fill you up?" The girl's Basic was heavily accented and her voice soft - a rarity in this place. Obi-Wan raised his glass to her and nodded slightly. She was the only bartender on this side of the bar and he the only patron other than an almost unconcious Rodin. She was new but typical of the place. Young but not innocent, pretty but in an understated way. She had a a faint scar running half the length of her bottom lip and a nearly healed black eye. She did not make eye contact when she served the Jedi.

"Where are you from?" He did not usually talk to anyone in the bar but the girl seemed harmless enough.

Her sad eyes, pretty eyes, regarded him suspiciously. "I just wait the tables, I don't take men home."

Obi-Wan held up his hands in a gesture of innocence. "It wasn't that kind of inquiry. I noticed your accent."

"I'm Habib." After the curt answer, she glanced over her shoulder and shouted an angry order at the other bartender in a language that Obi-Wan had never heard before. "If you can tell me where in the galaxy Habibti is, you drink free tonight."

"I've no clue," Obi-Wan admitted freely.

"You're not alone. There aren't many of us left. Outer rim, two hundred years of civil war, pretty much fucked ourselves out of any real place in history."

"I'm sorry."

"I doubt it's your fault, Jedi."

"I meant that I'm sorry it had to happen to you. I'm sure it wasn't easy."

The young woman shrugged, the galactic body language denoting apathy. "I was eight when we left. It doesn't much matter to me one way or another."

Her words and gestures told one story but the saddness Obi-Wan could sense radiating from her was far more compelling. Perhaps this was the type of woman who felt most comfortable behind lies, hiding from contact, avoiding understanding. Obi-Wan had seen many such people before although he had never come to understand them. The one thing he was able to conclude about people, especially humanoids, who closed themselves to others was that they were happier when someone forced them to let their defenses down. "What is your name."

"Karis."

"I'm Obi-Wan." She glanced over her shoulder again, looking for something else to do but Obi-Wan was still her only customer and the other side of the bar was actually beginning to empty.

"Why would a Jedi spend time in a place like this? In theory, that is."

"In theory, he's trying to find a quiet place to think...and drink."

"He's not terribly smart, is he? There are a lot of people here who would just love to blame their problems on the Jedi Council, and a lone Jedi could prove excellent target practice. You'd think that, in theory, this Jedi would at least remove his lightsabre before coming -alone- to this part of the underground."

"There is no significant danger to me here."

"Really? Is that true or do you just think that you'll be able to handle anything unpleasant that does happen?"

He considered her question and answered simply, "Does it matter as long as I'm right?"

"Isn't it in your little code to avoid seeking trouble? Besides, it DOES matter to whoever has to clean up the mess you leave behind." As she said this she refilled his glass yet again. A weaker concoction, he noticed, than she'd previously poured. "I, by the way, would be the lucky individual that gets to clean up after you."

"I won't make a mess."

"Jedi never mean to, it just happens."

"You've known Jedi before?"

She rolled her eyes as if he'd just asked the most amazingly elementary question ever uttered. "You're not so terribly rare, you know? Even a lowly serving girl has come into contact with a few of your exalted number."

"You're angry."

Karis sighed and closed her eyes. "Yes, but not at you. I'm sorry."

"Who are you angry at?

"What have you come to think about?" She turned the questioning around effortlessly. Obviously she was not comfortable talking about herself.

"My Master."

After a close inspection, she pronounced with certainty, "You're not a padawan."

"No, my Master is dead. Killed by a Sith." He caught himself too late. The emergence of the Sith was a strictly confidential matter as of two weeks ago. The Council felt that panic would start if the general public knew the ancient cult was resurfacing.

"Don't worry, we all know. You underestimate the people. We find out about things one way or another. Something like that you can't keep secret, not with so many interested parties just on the periphery."

"How long have you known?"

"A month or so, you might want to tell you superiors to make an official statement." She pushed a stray lock of very blonde hair out of her eyes. "So you're Kenobi?"

"Yes."

"Must be tough."

"Yes." The topic was over.

"What are you angry at, Karis?"

"Who not what and it's really none of your business."

"My Master's death was none of your's."

"Touche." For the first time she smiled. The motion stretch the scar on her lip giving her a quirky sideways lift to her mouth. The effect was disarmingly sweet and attractive. "I'm mad at myself."

"Why?"

"You don't quit, do you?" It was a rhetorical question. Karis continued. "I hate my job, I hate where I live, I hate what I see as my future and I feel powerless to change it. It's an old story, you know."

"Why are you powerless?"

"Have you ever been poor, Kenobi?"

"No."

"Then you would not understand."

"I could try."

This time Karis laughed. "You're persistant. It's just difficult. I have a family to support. It seems neverending."

"A family?" It was strange to imagine that this woman had children somewhere not far from here. A husband, maybe. It almost made Obi-Wan's conduct tonight inappropriate. A single young man did not pay such avid attention to an attractive married woman. And Obi-Wan had to admit that he had both noticed she was attractive and appriciated the fact in a purely male fashion.

"A little girl and my younger brother."

"Your husband?"

Again she laughed. Bitterly, this time. "My daughter's father is not fond of admitting we exist."

"Oh." It could be taken as either a statement or a question. Obi-Wan wanted to know but he knew that he had no right to ask about the man who had abandoned Karis. For the sake of the Stars, he had just met the woman. The very fact that he already felt a kind of genuine warmth for her and connection to her, did not negate his position as a near stranger. Especially considering much of his interest was based on an increasing attraction to the woman. An attraction he knew he could do nothing about.

"A nice man by many standards. I though I was lucky to have met him, to have been noticed by him." Her voice was not accusing, just resigned. "I didn't realize until my daughter was born that he was ashamed of me. I was only seventeen."

"How old is your daughter now?"

Karis grimaced as if caught in a lie. "She's three months old."

Obi-Wan had known that Karis must be young, younger than he. But he had not realized how young. "It must be hard to leave her."

"Terribly. My brother watches her while I work but I miss her. But I get to spend all day with her."

"When do you sleep?"

"Very rarely. Misha naps and so do I."

Obi-Wan reached accross the bar and touched Karis' hand. "It isn't hopeless."

Karis opened her palm to him and he took her hand in his. "I could help." She raised his hand to her abused mouth and gently kissed the backs of his fingers. "You're nicer than most, Jedi." The other bartender yelled and Karis nodded. "I'm needed for a moment." With that she was gone. It was not a life for a young mother to have to live. It was not the life for a pretty girl with a quick wit. Obi-Wan watched her lifting crates that were obviously far to heavy for her and winced. He knew that Karis was not the only woman of her kind on Coruscant, probably not the only one in the bar. But she was the only one to which Obi-Wan had spoken. She was the only one he felt he might care about in the near future. She returned to his side of the bar in a matter of minutes and filled his glass yet again. He sipped the liquid but resloved not to drink another. He felt a bit hazy already.

"Who hit you?"

"Huh?" Her confusion was genuine.

He brushed the reminants of her black eye with his fingertips. "Here."

"A fight broke out last week in here. My face got int the way. It happens but not often."

"I could get you a job in the Council Building. Do you read?"

"Of course but it wouldn't work."

"Why? There's a library position open now. It doesn't pay well but the hours are good and it's not....here."

"You don't know me."

"I'd like to."

She shook her head. "I'm your waitress, nothing more."

"Why?"

"Because I already have a child. I can't afford another."

"You misjudge my intentions."

Her eyes seemed to focus on a faraway place and he mind became a blank to him. Obi-Wan watched the distance in her countenance in interest. "No, you misjudge mine. Kenobi, there's only one way for a woman like me to make it out of a place like this. It's a road as old as time itself and your bed could easily be my transportation. You should get out of here before someone less scrupulous than myself uses your weaknesses against you."

"You see kindness as weakness."

"No, I think you're too far away from your home. Maybe on the surface kindness and compassion are virtues. This far down, you'll get yourself in trouble with your surface morals. You should stick to you part of the planet." Her coldness was sudden and unexpected. But it was a strong and amazingly persistant part of her personality, he could now see. She had been right when she said he did not know her. He did not know her world and he could not understand her method of survival. "Sometimes young Jedi came this far down, crusing the slums for adventure or just something different. It doesn't work, Kenobi. You all belong where you were born - up top. Have you ever noticed that none of your precious kind come from down here. Do you think the Force just doesn't work on level 11?"

She took his glass and motioned to the door. "Our kinds don't mix. We never have and if we try it can only end badly." Turning from him she sounded even more harsh than she had before. "Go home." Obi-Wan paid his bill with the other bartender and only glanced back at Karis once as he made his way to the exit. Right before he crossed the threshold, he thought he felt her eyes on his back but he could not be sure.