Title: Strokes of Colored Grey
Summary: Obi-Wan has been drawing since he was a small youngling, but only a few people know, including his teacher, Vianro Dleka, and the elderly, trustworthy archivist, Kin-Wan Terius. And when Vianro accidentally lets Qui-Gon in on what was supposed to be a secret, Obi-Wan finds himself with a bit of explaining to do, And Qui-Gon is in for a reality check. JA era.
Obi-Wan bit his lip, glancing at the door. He prayed his master wouldn't choose to walk in right now. Force, not now! Stone still, he held his breath as he 'watched' his master's movements through the door. To his relief, Qui-Gon filed past his room casually, and walked into his own. Obi-Wan's shoulders relaxed as he let out his breath. He then silently turned his attention back to the pad of paper situated on his desk. Pencils of varying shades of grey and black littered his work area, eraser fragments covering the dark wooden surface like confetti.
Obi-Wan bit his lip harder as he thought what might have happened if Qui-Gon had chosen to come in at that particular moment. What would his master have done? Would Obi-Wan somehow have been able to hide it all from sight? Would Qui-Gon notice? If he did notice, what would he say? By the force, what would Qui-Gon do when he learned that his apprentice's sleepless nights were spent mulling over paper and pencil?
Obi-Wan sighed, gripping the pencil in his hand harder. Ever since he was a young child, he needed some vent for creativity. Some vent for his feelings and emotions. Yes, he knew he was supposed to release them into the force, but sometimes… Sometimes he just couldn't. Either the emotion was too strong, or it was… Pleasant. Sometimes he just couldn't let it go.
Obi-Wan had been drawing for years, now. His work had noticeably improved over the past years, even though he was the only one to see it. He spent hours of his free time cooped up in his room with a pencil and paper, mainly when Qui-Gon was away at a council meeting, or something of the sort. He had only told one person in the entire temple about his art, and that person, he was sure, would never deliberately tell anyone else.
Now, just over fourteen years of age, he sat, venting out his emotions and feelings on a piece of paper. This particular piece had been in the works for quite some time now – it was the first piece he started after Melida/Daan, and he was determined to make this his best piece. He had spent month in and month out sketching, shading, erasing, and redoing soft strokes of gray, and he was finally ready for the finishing touches.
His probation had ended just a few days ago. Qui-Gon had accepted him as his apprentice again, much to Obi-Wan's utter joy and relief. But he was still a bit unsure of how to rebuild the relationship between he and his master. Really, there wasn't one to begin with. He had no remaining pieces of a bond, and he didn't have the slightest idea of how to start one. He adored Qui-Gon, yes, he admired, he respected and honored him, he loved him, even, but Qui-Gon didn't seem to notice. Trying to get this message through to his master was like trying to get through locked door without a key. He had knocked kindly, to no avail. He had tried picking the lock – that didn't work. He had tried subtly persuading the occupant inside to unlock the door – that didn't work either. He had nearly reached the point of pounding the door down, but he knew that he would cross a forbidden barrier, then. So he kept his distance respectively. But inside, his longing for the closeness of a father and son was still smoldering away inside. He glanced down at the sketch that was nearly done. He gulped. It was a sketch that he prayed Qui-Gon would never find. Jedi weren't supposed to wish in vain. Jedi weren't supposed to indulge in fantastical daydreams. But that was just what this was. Obi-Wan looked down at his sketchpad, tears forming in his eyes. It was a factless fantasy.
"Qui-Gon!" Jedi Master Vianro Dleka wove her tall, willowy frame through the masses of Jedi crowding the halls of the temple, headed for Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui-Gon turned around at the call, and waited patiently for Vianro to reach him.
"Yes?" He asked, after she had reached him.
"You are Padawan Kenobi's Master, yes?" She asked, her musical voice floating across the room. Master Dleka was an Oma-Auri, a type humanoid that, physically, was nearly identical to humans. Really, they were humans, with a few… Alterations. Oma-Auri were very long-lived beings, and, despite their lengthy lifespans (which could reach anywhere from two to seven hundred years) stayed very youthful in appearance throughout their lives. But, they were definitively not perfect creatures. They almost always suffered from poor or even completely lost vision and/or hearing. Qui-Gon knew Master Dleka personally, and unfortunately, she had both poor hearing and sight – though the Force aided her a small amount.
"Yes, Obi-Wan is my padawan. Is something wrong, Master Dleka?" He asked. Vianro Dleka was Obi-Wan's teacher for arts and linguistics. Qui-Gon casually eyed a few folders which she held, and wondered if Obi-Wan had done something wrong.
"No, nothing wrong, Master Jinn, but I would like to talk to you. Come, let us find a quieter place." With a light nod, Vianro turned and gracefully made her way to one of the numerous gardens that lay in and around the Temple.
Once inside the deserted garden, Vianro quietly directed Qui-Gon to a small clearing, where they could sit and talk in private. As she sat down, she placed the folders on her lap. Qui-Gon sat down slowly, eyeing her still.
"If nothing is wrong, why did you wish to speak with me?" Qui-Gon asked. Master Dleka nodded slightly, understanding his confusion.
"I simply wanted to talk to you about Obi-Wan. To get to know him. He is very quiet in class, normally, and I just wanted to get to know my new students better." She paused, as if reading an invisible note that only she could see. "Oh!" She exclaimed, reaching into one of her folders. "And to give you this." She handed Qui-Gon a small, folded card. Qui-Gon knew it was a grade report at first glance. He unfolded it and read it quickly. All of the scores were perfectly acceptable, and probably above average, but were not astronomically high. Nodding in approval, he folded it back up and slid it into his belt pocket. The expectancy in his eyes signaled Vianro to continue.
"Obi-Wan is a very bright boy, Qui-Gon. Very quiet, but very bright. He-"
"Quiet?" Qui-Gon cut in, "He doesn't seem that quiet." Vianro seemed surprised.
"Really? He must be different for you, then. He barely ever speaks in class, unless I specifically ask him to. But when he does speak, it is very intriguing. He is a very interesting boy. Smart, kind, diligent… Though I must admit, Master Jinn…" She paused, and Qui-Gon cocked an eyebrow up after a moment of silence.
With a sigh, Vianro tilted her head to the left slightly, her board straight, smooth brown hair falling over her shoulders.
"He seems very insecure. I've gotten a few chances to speak with him, and he seems lacking in confidence. He is also very reserved. More reserved than can be healthy for a boy of his age." Vianro stopped there, gauging Qui-Gon's reaction.
"Insecure?" Qui-Gon asked, a deep frown on his face. He never thought of Obi-Wan as insecure. Much less as 'lacking in confidence'. He had always shown great skill and confidence in saber classes, at least.
Master Dleka nodded. "Yes. Enough to make me ask about it." She said this plainly, and was waiting for Qui-Gon to recognize the underlying question. When he said nothing, she gave a slight sigh and carried on. "Does Obi-Wan enjoy art, Master Jinn?" She asked, thinking she was asking an easy-to-answer question.
Qui-Gon shrugged. "I really don't know. I haven't really spoken to him about it."
Vianro did her best to hide her surprise. He doesn't even know that his padawan enjoys art? Does he not know? "Oh. Well, I thought he might, considering how talented an artist he is. I absolutely love the artwork he drew for the-"
"Wait," Qui-Gon stopped her, very confused. "What are you talking about? I'm afraid I don't understand.
Master Dleka seemed taken aback. "You mean you don't know? You haven't seen?"
Qui-Gon frowned, confused. "Know what? Seen what?"
Vianro seemed to grow more and more shocked as the moment went by. "Obi-Wan… He draws – Surely, Master Qui-Gon, you jest. You must know. You are his master, after all."
Qui-Gon's frown deepened. Was it so surprising that Obi-Wan drew? Was it so surprising that Qui-Gon 'didn't know'? An image of Obi-Wan doodling idly on a page popped into his mind. "Well, I wasn't aware he enjoyed it that much, but… Is it so uncommon for children to draw?" He asked.
Another frustrating moment passed as Master Dleka stared at Qui-Gon, her long neck frozen in place.
"Have you ever seen his work?" she asked, almost laughing because of her surprise.
Qui-Gon grit his teeth as he sensed the amazement in Vianro. What did she mean by 'work'? "Well, no. I did not know he had 'work'." Qui-Gon replied, still quite lost.
Again, another long pause before Master Dleka answered. When she did, she rose swiftly as her voice reached Qui-Gon's ears.
"Come with me."
Qui-Gon casually looked around himself as Master Dleka led him through the explansive archives of the Jedi Temple. Books, datapads, and holo-videos of all sorts could be found here, and, even now, a whole arrangement of initiates, padawans, knights, and masters were scattered about the peaceful, semi-dark rooms, all silently studying, a document in hand.
As the walked through a larger room, soft murmuring drew Qui-Gon's attention. Off in a corner, the crèche master, Liam Nafeel, had a young human child snuggled up close to his chest, and had his large arms wrapped around the small being to hold a worn, thin book infront of them both. He softly read to the child, who was completely engrossed in the story. As they passed by, the small boy let out a joyous, musical laugh.
Liam bore a great similarity to Qui-Gon, both in his physical stature and his fondness for all living, but Liam had shorter hair, green eyes, and his skin was an even olive. After nodding a greeting to the smiling master, Qui-Gon considered how much the small boy reminded him of Obi-Wan. The same petiteness about him, the same innocence, even the same eager sheen in his eyes. A picture suddenly came to Qui-Gon's mind – a picture of himself and a very young Obi-Wan in a position similar to that of the child and Master Nafeel. Qui-Gon shook himself out of it. What was he thinking? Obi-Wan was a teenager. And Qui-Gon would not spoil Obi-Wan like he had Xanatos. He had learned his lesson concerning that.
Shaking of his ponderings, Qui-Gon carried on behind Vianro. As they weaved through shelves upon tall shelves of material, the two masters were passers-by to the comings and goings, padawans three steps behind their masters, initiates hurriedly walking through the halls to study, and knights perusing through the shelves with silent interest.
Suddenly, Vianro pulled Qui-Gon off into a corridor, and lead him into a high-ceilinged room – the largest on they'd yet passed through. Qui-Gon soon recognized it as the hall of Jedi history. Everything having to do with the Jedi, the Order, and their history could be found here.
But, even with such a wonderful, peaceful place, Qui-Gon still didn't have answers.
"Vianro, I still don't see why you're taking me-"
She promptly shushed him with a light elbow to the stomach, and carried on gracefully down the room's length. They soon came to a section of lower shelves, the height that a young initiate could easily reach with still growing limbs. At the end of one of the shelves, a large poster was pinned to the dark wood.
Upon closer inspection, Qui-Gon saw that it was a hand-drawn, black and white drawing. It was a breath-takingly intricate image of the Jedi-Temple. It viewed the northwest corner, and with soft rays of sun highlighting the ancient pillars of stone, it was definitely a majestic sight. All around, tiny beings of all kinds went about their normal, Coruscanti hustle and bustle throughout the city, the ground traffic flooding about under the single-file lines of skycars and transports.
It was strange, looking at this drawing. It was clearly simple grey pencil on paper, but the way in which the artist carefully shaded even the most miniscule places was… Amazing. It was as if, by using such detailed artistry, the artist was coloring the picture, even though it was still physically grey. Qui-Gon tilted his head ever so slightly. Colored grey. It was a strange concept that sounded completely ridiculous, but, here it was, staring him in the face.
Qui-Gon could have studied the piece for hours, spying every detail engraved so finely with grey pencil into white paper. But, breaking into his silent intrigue, Vianro came up behind him.
"Well?" She asked, once again gauging his reaction. Qui-Gon fought against a frown.
Vianro would have smacked his ignorant, long-haired head, had she not been taught propriety. "Force sakes, Qui-Gon! Have you such short a memory span? You must be getting older than I thought! This is the work I was talking about!" She motioned to the picture. "This is what I thought that you would surely know about!"
Revelation dawned. Qui-Gon whipped his head back around to lock his eyes on the drawing. Obi-Wan drew this?!
For a long, heart-pounding moment of awe, Qui-Gon lost any control he had over his speech. Several moments later, when he could speak, Qui-Gon turned back to face master Dleka.
"What?" He asked, half in awe, half unbelieving. "You're telling me that Obi-Wan drew this?"
Vianro nodded. "Yes."
There was a pause.
"No. That's impossible." Qui-Gon replied in disbelief. Obi-Wan, the saber-swinging, action-loving, bright-eyed, eager-to-learn, always-on-the-move, energetic padawan of his surely wouldn't drawof all things. Qui-Gon's brow furrowed as he glanced back at the piece. Would he?
Not that drawing was at all bad – this was a magnificent piece. But it just didn't seem… Expected.
"It is not only possible, Qui-Gon, it is. Look close at the roadway bordering the west side of the temple." Vianro said, nodding toward the artwork.
Qui-Gon followed the given directions, and soon found what, at first glance, appeared to be a small squiggle in the smooth road, but, upon closer inspection, was a signature. Qui-Gon carefully read and re-read the signed name: 'O. W. Kenobi'.
Again, Qui-Gon couldn't speak. Vianro kept her quiet, and left the room quietly, leaving Qui-Gon to study soft strokes of colored grey.
Well! Chapter 1 of yet ANOTHER new story. I really didn't intend this to be a multi-chapter story, but, here we are. Another oneshot spinning off into something bigger. But, it won't be very long. Perhaps four or five chapters. Anyway, hope you've enjoyed it so far:D