Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars.
AN: Here's a brand new story! This story will be co-written by both me and PyramidHead316. As always, it will eventually turn into an Anakin/Padme pairing. Enjoy and let us know what you think:)
Under the Setting Sun
Chapter 1: Destiny's New Path
Two of Naboo's moons shone down upon the gardens of Theed palace. Obi-Wan was well aware of the glances from the other Jedi present. He had failed miserably. Not only had he let that psychotic Sith slay his Master right before his own eyes, he had been too weak to stop him from escaping. The saber burns of his own injuries still stung, but it was nothing like the pain in his heart. He felt that pain stab even deeper as Qui-Gon's funeral pyre was lit.
He took a sharp intake of breath, in order to hold back all the emotions threatening to spill out. Obi-Wan stood at the pyre until the last cinder went out. Qui-Gon was gone. He was deemed unworthy to be knighted. Some other Master would now complete his training. And Anakin…Force only knew what would happen to him. The others soon retreated back inside the palace, including the Masters on the Council. Obi-Wan didn't follow them. He remained outside in the crematorium, watching as the flames consumed Qui-Gon's body. He didn't notice the person silently observing him, pondering whether or not to show herself.
It wasn't until he heard her voice that he realized he wasn't alone.
Obi-Wan turned around. "Siri? What are you doing here?"
"I was on a mission until a couple days ago. When I heard what happened, I came with the Council," Siri explained.
"Qui-Gon…I can't believe it." Siri shook her head. It was only a few days ago that Qui-Gon Jinn was still alive, and still very much a father figure to Obi-Wan. And now he was gone. She remembered the kindly old Master. He was almost like a father to her as well, even though he disapproved of the relationship she had tried to forge with Obi-Wan. What would they do now without him?
"Are you alright?" she asked.
Kenobi subtly shook his head, averting his eyes from her gaze. "I'm not alright," he said, voice barely masking a world of pain.
Obi-Wan turned away, staring once again at the funeral pyre. "I failed him, Siri. I couldn't save him, and then I couldn't fulfill the promise I made."
Siri had heard about that, the promise Qui-Gon made Obi-Wan commit to on his dying breath. No doubt Obi-Wan was feeling the guilt of not fulfilling that promise, even if the circumstances were beyond his control.
His companion knew she was threading a thin line, but she decided to go ahead anyway. "I don't think that was fair of him, to ask you that on his deathbed," she remarked.
"It doesn't matter. Yoda won't let me train Anakin," Kenobi shook his head. "It's because of Qui-Gon. I couldn't save him, and so the Council thinks I'm not fit to be a Knight yet."
Siri listened sympathetically as he continued. "He's all alone now, Siri. No friends, no family, no Jedi Master to warrant his training. Unless someone stands up for him, he's in danger of being sent back to Tatooine. They have slavery there, Siri. He was a slave there."
He had been resentful at first that Qui-Gon would choose this boy over him. But now that Qui-Gon was gone, he realized the truth. Qui-Gon was not trying to replace him. He just saw an enormously talented boy in need of some aid and acted impulsively. And he could see it in the boy, the reason Qui-Gon wanted him to train so badly. The boy was the Chosen One. Anakin had massive potential. But that potential would never be accomplished unless he had someone to support him.
"I will train him then."
Obi-Wan turned sharply to her. "What?"
"I will train him. If it's that important to you, I will train him."
Obi-Wan couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Siri, you're only a Padawan yourself."
"I was going to go on a mission to infiltrate a slaving ring. I guess they'll just have to find someone else to go in my place," Siri stated off-handedly.
"The trials?" Siri questioned. "Don't worry about that. This mission was more than an assignment. It was meant to be a test, and one I'm sure Master knew I was ready for. Adi would not have sent me on this mission unless she was sure I was ready for the trials."
"It's not that simple, Siri. If it were, they would let me train Anakin," Obi-Wan pointed out.
"That's different. They might not feel you're ready because of Qui-Gon. I'm not sure you are either."
Obi-Wan looked sharply at her.
"Don't get me wrong, Obi-Wan. You're a great Jedi, regardless of what happened with Qui-Gon. The talent is there, I have no doubt of that. But are you really in the right mind set to train a Padawan?" Siri questioned. "You need to grieve, Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon was a great man. He was almost like your father. That's not the type of thing you get over right away."
Obi-Wan realized she had a point. He was not anywhere near the right mind set to take on a Padawan, even if the Council allowed him to train Anakin. His morose mentality wasn't going to inspire the boy, and it sure wouldn't do him any favors.
Maybe this was for the best…
"The Council was going to make me a Knight after this mission anyway. We'll just skip ahead a few years on schedule."
"You really think they'll go for that?"
"They'll have no choice. I'm not going to let them do this to you, Obi-Wan. You deserve better than to live your life full of guilt because you didn't fulfill your Master's last request. And if what you say about Anakin is true, then I can't let them do this to Anakin either."
Obi-Wan considered that. It was an intriguing idea, one that was tantalizing in its potential. It was almost crazy, really; how could Siri train a Padawan when she was still a Padawan herself? Obi-Wan nearly smiled. It was almost crazy enough to work. But still, he couldn't help but feel that Siri was ignoring the more realistic aspects of their situation. Adi Gallia was a tough Master to train under, tougher than Qui-Gon in some respects. Obi-Wan held little doubt she would allow Siri to undertake this option without some strong protest on her part. And if the Council sided with her…Then there was Master Yoda to deal with, and Master Windu.
"What if the Council doesn't approve," he questioned.
Siri gave a cocky half-smile. "Then I'll just assume the title of Jedi Master", she answered. Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow.
"Very few people have assumed the title of Master in history, Siri. Jorus C'baoth is the only one."
"And the Council let him get away with that, didn't they? He didn't even have a good reason for it. At least I have a good reason for it."
"This is crazy…" Obi-Wan shook his head.
"It is. Does that mean you don't want to try it?" Siri asked.
"No. Anakin deserves better." Obi-Wan almost smiled. Almost. "Let's go for it."
"Exactly the response I wanted to hear." Siri said. She too almost smiled, but there was no getting around the situation that brought them to this. It came out more like a twisted grimace.
They lapsed into an awkward silence, watching as the flames consumed burned over what was left of Qui-Gon's body.
He turned to look at her.
"Do you want to…talk about it?" Siri asked.
"No," Obi-Wan responded shortly.
"Okay," she replied, not wanting to test his patience.
"I'm sorry," Siri uttered quietly, wishing she could get closer to him. Obi-Wan really needed a shoulder to cry on. She subtly linked her arm with his, resting her head on his shoulder.
Obi-Wan made no reply, though he did not pull away from her affection. They stayed there until the flames finally cooled over the ashes.
Anakin was still awake when Obi-Wan came to visit him. He knew he should have gone to bed already; the Queen – Padme – told him so, but he couldn't get over what happened tonight. Qui-Gon was gone. He'd known the Jedi was dead, having been killed by that thing the Masters called a Sith Lord, but it hadn't really sunk in until he saw the body lying there on the funeral pyre. Qui-Gon was gone and he was left stranded in a strange place with no one but the droids and Padme to keep him company.
He was alone.
And now Obi-Wan was coming to talk to him. Anakin wondered what the Padawan wanted with him. He knew the Padawan was broken up over Qui-Gon's death, but he didn't really know him that well. Somehow, Anakin didn't think Obi-Wan liked him very much. But Obi-Wan had been acting nice to him recently, so maybe he was wrong.
Obi-Wan stepped inside and gathered Anakin's attention.
"I already know what you're going to say. I'm not going to be a Jedi, am I?"
The boy walked away looking distraught. Obi-Wan's heart went out to him. He looked so sullen, so disheartened. This was not the Anakin Skywalker he had met a couple days ago. Hopefully the upcoming news would prompt that boy to make reappearance.
He nodded towards the Jedi waiting outside, prompting Siri to make her move.
Anakin heard footsteps behind him. He turned around to see Obi-Wan coming towards him with a blonde haired woman of about his age.
"Anakin, this is Siri Tachi. She's my very close, personal friend," Obi-Wan introduced his companion.
"Hi," Siri greeted.
"Nice to meet you," Anakin stuck out his hand like his mother taught him.
"Nice to meet you, too." Siri was impressed by the boy's politeness.
"Anakin, we have some important news for you," Obi-Wan stated.
The young boy waited anxiously. This was it, he assured himself. They were going to send him back. After all he'd done to try and become a Jedi, they were going to send him back.
He had failed his mom…and Master Qui-Gon too.
"Anakin," Obi-Wan knelt down in front of him, "Siri has agreed to take you on as a Padawan."
Anakin stared at the two Jedi.
"Really? Are you serious?"
"Absolutely," Siri assured him. The wonder was evident in his voice.
"Wow! I thought I'd never get a chance to be a Jedi." Suddenly he noticed the Padawan braid behind Siri's ear. "But…what about your own Master?"
Obi-Wan and Siri traded glances – Obi-Wan hadn't expected the boy to be that astute.
"Don't worry about her. We'll handle that," Siri told him.
Siri knelt down to his level. "Anakin, I can't promise you that I'll be like Qui-Gon. But I'll try to train you to the best of my abilities. You will be a Jedi, I promise."
"So, what do you say?" Obi-Wan asked. Siri held out her hand.
"I…" Anakin hesitated for the briefest of instances. "I accept."
Obi-Wan and Siri smiled.
"Good. Now give me a hug," Siri stated.
Anakin leaned into the woman's open arms, feeling compelled to trust her despite having just met her. There was something about Siri Tachi that made him feel safe. She reminded him of his mother, in that way.
Over the boy's shoulder, Obi-Wan and Siri looked approvingly at each other, each giving the other a faint nod.
This was going to work. It was going to work and Anakin would be trained into the Jedi he deserved to be.
Siri waited impatiently outside of Master Yoda's chambers. She had insisted on speaking with him, Master Windu, and her own Master tonight. The events of the last few days swirled in her head. A Sith, the first one in over a thousand years had appeared. He was a particularly vicious Zabrak, tattooed completely with red and black symbolism. He had murdered Qui-Gon Jinn right before Obi-Wan's eyes and then fled, after delivering a minor injury and defeat to Obi-Wan. At his Master's dying request, he asked Master Yoda for permission to train the slave boy, Anakin. Qui-Gon believed the boy to be a child of prophecy. The Chosen One. The one who would save them all from the Sith.
But most of the Council considered the boy too old to begin training and feared the raw power they sensed from the child. Siri did not fear him though. In fact, she'd felt connected to Anakin the instant she'd met him. How could the Council suggest they send him back to Tatooine? Back to a life of slavery, where he would know nothing but a life of misfortune and cruelty? The boy's mother had given him up to spare him of that existence and Siri would be damned if she'd let a mother's sacrifice be for naught.
Once Master Yoda had denied Obi-Wan's request, she knew what she had to do. She felt badly that Yoda had said Obi-Wan was not yet ready to become a Knight. She felt his sorrow, grief, and shame. She wanted to be there for him, but he had already shut her out. She, on the other hand, was preparing for the trials already. And now she would request to be knighted. Just a little sooner, in order to take Anakin as her Padawan. Finally, she was admitted to Yoda's chambers and took a seat on a round, meditation pad. Directly across from her was Master Yoda. To his right was Master Mace Windu and on Yoda's left sat her own Master, Adi Gallia.
"Siri, tell us why you have gathered us here at this late hour?" Mace requested of her.
"Masters…I request permission to train the boy, Anakin Skywalker," she said frankly. Adi blanched in disbelief. What was her Padawan thinking?
"The boy will not be trained, Siri," Mace replied.
"Siri, you are still but a Padawan yourself," Adi protested.
"But I am ready for the trials. You have said so yourself, Master. And I consider the undertaking of this boy's training the most challenging trial you could ever put me through," Siri said.
"Siri, that boy is dangerous!" Adi exclaimed.
"Not in the right hands, he's not. He has ambition, a thirst for knowledge, a desire to help those in need, and great potential. Sound familiar?" Siri asked, using the words they had often used to describe her.
"She has a point. In the right hands, he could be molded into a great warrior," Mace mumbled to Yoda.
"You cannot be seriously considering this. Qui-Gon was foolish to even consider the boy!" Adi mumbled to the ancient Master.
"Master Yoda, I know that taking Anakin as my Padawan is right for me. He is only a child; one that had the misfortune of being a slave. I feel a kindred likeness with him. I can teach him, because I understand him," Siri pleaded.
"Worthy of Knighthood, you are, Padawan Tachi. Words you speak, come from your heart, they do. Your request to train the boy, a selfless act of compassion, I sense it is. Training him, a true life's trial it will be, for easy it will not be. Granted, your request is," Yoda said. Siri smiled.
"Thank you Master," she replied.
"Master...you cannot be serious," Adi protested.
"Respect my decision, you will, Master Gallia. And be proud of your apprentice, you should," Yoda said.
"Yes Master," she answered, as she and Siri stood face to face. The Jedi Master ignited her blade and severed Siri's Padawan braid with a swift slice.
"Congratulations, my Padawan," Adi said, though her voice held no mirth.
"Thank you Master. I have but one more request," Siri said.
"Mmm…suspected as much I did," Yoda responded.
"Masters, I already sense much fear, apprehension, and dislike for Anakin among the ranks. I believe it would not be wise to train him in a hostile environment. I request that you allow me to train Anakin elsewhere, with frequent visits to the Temple," Siri said.
"Perhaps that would be in the boy's best interest," Mace said. Yoda nodded.
"Very well, Knight Tachi. Since you claim the boy desires to help people, then you both will reside on Naboo, where you will begin his training and assist the Naboo in the aftermath of the blockade. You and your Padawan will visit the Temple for one week ever three months. I'm sure Queen Amidala will welcome your extended presence here on Naboo," Mace said.
"Thank you Masters," Siri said, as she bowed deeply. She was dismissed and quickly headed for her designated quarters in the palace.
When she arrived, she observed Padme, in her handmaiden garb, saying goodbye to Anakin. The Queen would be very busy with the celebration planning tomorrow, which meant she would not have time to see Anakin the following day. The Jedi would leave shortly after the parade the day after that, which meant she would not have a chance to say goodbye then either, had Anakin needed to go with them. Little did the young Queen know, she would not have to say goodbye. She listened to them talk.
"Master Tachi says she's going to train me…at least, I think she is," Anakin said.
"That's wonderful Ani," Padme replied.
"Yeah…but I'm going to miss you Padme," Anakin said sadly.
"Oh Ani, this isn't goodbye forever. We'll meet again," Padme assured him
"I hope so," Anakin said.
"Actually, you don't have to say goodbye at all, Ani," Siri said.
"Master Tachi! Am I your Padawan now?" Anakin asked in excitement.
"That you are, young one. And I have requested to begin your training outside the Temple. The Masters have assigned us here to help with the aftermath of the blockade. We will be at your disposal, you majesty," Siri said.
"You mean we get to stay on Naboo?" Anakin asked.
"That's right. The reconstruction and cleanup will be no easy task," Siri replied.
"I did not think the Jedi Council was going to grant my request for extended Jedi assistance, but I'm glad they did and that they chose the two of you," Padme replied.
"This is wizard!" Anakin said. She was surprised when he threw his arms around her legs, hugging her tightly.
"Thank you, Master Tachi…for giving me a chance," Anakin said. The little boy's eyes were filled with tears. Siri felt her heart melt and knelt down, taking him in her arms.
"You deserve it, Ani. You're a good boy. We'll prove to all those skeptics in the Temple that they were wrong about you. And I'll not have you calling me Master Tachi all the time. It's Master Siri to you now," she said. He nodded and hugged her tightly. Padme's heart swelled at the sight. She'd never met a more compassionate Jedi than Siri Tachi. This was exactly what Ani needed. A Master…and a second mother at the same time. This felt right.
"Well, I guess then I will see you both tomorrow at the celebration after all," Padme said.
"Good night Master Tachi. Good night Ani," Padme said.
"Good night, your majesty," Siri replied.
"Good night Padme," Anakin called as she left.
"Now, let's get you settled into bed," Siri said.
"Aw...do I hafta?" Anakin whined.
"Sorry, young one. While you'll find I usually toss most of the rules out the window, a proper bedtime is one I heed by. Let's go," she said, holding his hand as they headed for his bedroom.
The next day, Obi-Wan returned to the funeral pyre along with the others. Despite the fact that the funeral was held, they found they couldn't stay away. Something was calling them to the funeral pyre; an urge to say a more private goodbye to the man they knew and admired. Padme was nearby, as were Anakin and Siri. He hadn't wanted to accompany them; not really, but they left him little choice. It was dark around them, night having fallen on the planet some time ago.
Of the people currently on Naboo, they'd known Qui-Gon the best. Obi-Wan and Siri had looked up to him as a father, and Padme felt she'd truly come to know the Jedi Master in their few days together. Anakin clearly saw him as a father figure as well, even if he didn't have the time to forge a truly deep connection to him. Yoda cared for Qui-Gon, and so did Mace Windu, but theirs was the distant affection of the usual Jedi. Adi too, distanced herself from him, despite having some rather personal feelings for the Master. That was not the case for the four individuals whose lives had been touched deeply by his death.
Obi-Wan stared at the funeral pyre. The pyre was empty – the ashes had been cleared away – yet all he saw was Qui-Gon's body burning on the slab, a fleeting reminder of his failure as a Padawan. He stared at his companions, who were clearly noticing his cold treatment of them.
Obi-Wan frowned in contemplation. It was strange. He'd encouraged Siri to go along with her plan. But now that it had succeeded, he found he was not happy and satisfied with the result. In fact, he almost wished she'd never brought up the idea in the first place.
He recalled the positive feelings he'd felt with regard to Anakin after the funeral. That wasn't a fake reaction – he truly did sympathize with Anakin in those moments. Yet once Siri announced that Anakin would be her Padawan, he found himself regarding the boy with nothing more than disdain.
The Council's words repeated in his mind, the same ones he'd told to Qui-Gon just before they departed from Coruscant. "The boy is dangerous…"
"He's too old…"
Was this boy worth the loss and heartbreak he was going through? Obi-Wan didn't think so. The boy was nothing more than a slave; an unfortunate little life form Qui-Gon picked up out of pity and deluded misgivings about a thousand year old prophecy. Why should he take precedence over Obi-Wan, who had trained with and stuck by the man for thirteen long years?
He took a moment to silently observe Siri to the right of him. She had wanted to come to him and comfort him in him in his time of grief, but he wouldn't allow it. Whatever feelings he had for her were numb, and now all he was feeling for her was a mixture of envy and resentment. Why did she insist on taking the boy as her Padawan? He was dangerous. Couldn't she see that? Qui-Gon had been ready to toss him aside in favor in Anakin, and now Siri had done the same. He watched the boy hold her hand tightly and look up at her with sadness. Queen Amidala stood on his other side, a hand on his young shoulder. Attachment. The boy was too damned attached to the Queen and now Siri. Obi-Wan pushed down the rising bitterness in him, knowing it would do only harm to lose control of his emotions.
Siri had been knighted and would now take Anakin as her Padawan. The thought of that left a bitter taste in Obi-Wan's mouth. He promised Qui-Gon he would train the boy, even though he didn't even want the little urchin. Some Padawan he turned out to be. He couldn't save Qui-Gon and he couldn't even keep a damn promise to him! Perhaps they should have sent him to the Agri-Corps with the rest of the rejects all those years ago. Perhaps then, Qui-Gon would still be alive. He observed Siri with Anakin for a moment, hoping she didn't notice his stare.
"I tried not to cry, Master, but it was hard," Anakin said. He had been present at Qui-Gon's funeral last night, when it seemed like all hope had been lost that he'd ever be a Jedi.
Siri knelt down and wiped a few of his tears away.
"It's okay to cry, Ani. The other Masters may frown on it, but I do not. Come here," she said, hugging him tightly.
"Everything will be okay," Siri said, noticing Obi-Wan's gaze. Padme picked up on the tension as well and took Anakin's hand.
"Come on Ani, I'm getting hungry. Let's go see what we can find in the kitchen," Padme suggested.
"Okay. Are you coming, Master?" Anakin asked. Siri smiled.
"I'll be along in a few minutes. Go on ahead," she replied. Once they were gone, she turned to Obi-Wan and slowly approached him.
"Hey, are you all right?" she asked.
"I'm fine," he lied.
"If you need to talk…" he cut her off.
"I don't need anything from you," he snapped. Siri crossed her arms over her chest.
"We have far too much history between us for you to just shut me out like this," Siri replied.
"That's exactly what it is; history, the past," he stated. Siri stared at him.
"What's wrong with you?" she asked him, leaning in close with narrowed eyes.
Obi-Wan gave her a snide look. "Do you really have to ask?" he said sarcastically.
"I mean, what's with the sudden attitude?" she asked. She was puzzled as to why he was reacting this way. Why the sudden change in demeanor?
A thought occurred to her. Did he really not believe the council would go for her idea? Was he just patronizing her by encouraging her to go for it, and by introducing her to Anakin? That lying, stubborn nerf-brain…
Was he resentful of the fact the Council granted her permission to train Anakin, while he was not?
Was he jealous?
"Anakin is going to be trained. Qui-Gon's wishes will be fulfilled," Siri reminded him
"I think training him will be a mistake. He's dangerous," Obi-Wan replied.
Siri stared at him. Did he really just say that? "He's a boy and in the right hands, he won't be dangerous," she replied. Obi-Wan snorted.
"You think it too. You think I'm unfit to train him," Obi-Wan spat.
"With this attitude, yes. Do you think he cannot sense your disdain toward him? Children are very perceptive, especially ones like Anakin. What would you have me do? Send him back into a life of slavery? What if his old master refused to let his mother take him back? What if they sold him back to the Hutts? I will not let him go back to being a slave," Siri said passionately.
"You really think you can handle him?" Obi-Wan asked.
"You don't think I know he will be a handful? Of course I do, but I understand him and I know what he needs," she replied.
"And what is that?" he questioned.
"He needs the firm hand of a Master, but he also needs a soft touch to comfort him. How would you have dealt with him waking up screaming in the middle of the night, because he was remembering being whipped for doing something, which angered his Master?" Siri questioned back.
"Jedi don't dream," Obi-Wan grunted.
"That's Bantha Poodoo…and you know it. I held him and I rocked him back to sleep last night, because that's what he needed," Siri said.
"You're not his mother," Obi-Wan replied. That stung Siri more than she would ever admit.
"Maybe not, but I suppose he's the closest to a child of my own that I'll ever have, thanks to you," Siri replied.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Obi-Wan sniped.
"You know damn well what it means. I wanted to fight for our love…but you couldn't ruin your impeccable reputation. I loved you enough to risk everything, but you obviously didn't love me enough to do the same," Siri spat. Obi-Wan was silent, refusing to deny or confirm her claim.
"You shouldn't become so attached to the brat. Are you really going to stay here on Naboo and train him?" he asked, changing the subject.
"Yes, it's in Anakin's best interest. Back at the Temple, he would have too many scrutinizing his every move. Some people excel in that sort of situation, for they wish to prove people wrong. But Anakin is the type that would only feel worse about himself in that kind of situation. He was a slave and all he knows is being put down and told he's worthless. I need him in a complimentary environment. Queen Amidala and many in her cabinet are very fond of him. He's an honorary citizen here, having been the one to destroy the droid control ship. He will excel in his training here and ultimately learn to look beyond the scrutiny of the Jedi," Siri explained.
"Do you believe he's the Chosen One?" Obi-Wan asked.
"Only time will tell. But for now, he is a boy, and I will not have him burdened by shoving that prophecy down his throat. Another valid reason why not to train him in the Temple. Anakin is special, though, and I will see that he's brought up as his mother would want," Siri answered.
"Well then, I guess I will bid you good evening, Master Tachi," Obi-Wan said, with a curt bow, before he left her behind. His coldness toward her cut her deeply…but she couldn't be concerned with that now. Anakin was her priority and he would grow into a powerful Jedi, not to mention a fine young man. She would see to that. Siri had a purpose again and had not felt as so since Obi-Wan had refused to help her fight for their love. But Siri had little Ani now to raise into a Jedi and a man. She would not fail him. And together, they would prove all the skeptics wrong…