I debated whether or not to post this fic, seeing as how I have a couple "in-progress" fics already posted, but then I thought, why not? Bring on the Obi angst!
Title: New Arrangements
Author: Syntyche (Who Can't Get Enough Obi-Wan Kenobi)
Reviews: Comments will be adored and cherished. (doooo iiiiiit….) it only takes a minute, but it makes an author's day.
Summary: Qui-Gon Jinn is less than pleased when the Council assigns him a new Padawan – one who should be old enough to undergo the Trials instead. But why isn't Kenobi a Jedi yet?
Author's Note: This fic turned out strangely wordy, sort of like Mortal Coil. I know that sometimes that can make it somewhat difficult to get through without really paying attention, so I apologize in advance if anyone has any trouble staying awake while reading this fic. This is one of 17 Obi-Wan fics currently languishing unfinished on my hard drive, all containing ridiculous amounts of angst and Grumpy Qui-Gon Drama ... I may have issues, but they're just so damn much fun.
Read on, please leave a review if you can, and the next chap of the Rewrite should be up sometime this weekend.
Rain lashed against his large common room window, the bleak grey skies from whence the downpour came echoing his mood as surely as if his dark thoughts themselves had created this sudden, severe shift in the previously calm twilight. Lightning flashed, and thunder pounded through the heavens.
The perpetually crowded streams of air traffic were slowed to almost a crawl as their pilots and captains fought for visibility in the rapidly darkening sky. He watched them idly, his thoughts cast far from the Temple, and the large, strong fingers of his left hand tapped a distracted tattoo where they rested on his folded right elbow.
He was not a happy man, though his personal credo embraced seeking the good from any situation, whether difficult or easy. He was not currently a patient man, either, though he usually counseled patience and a clear head through all circumstances. And his thoughts, though he himself so often advised quiet clarity, were cloudy and troubled, as turbulent as the weather outside his window. He was finding it hard to follow his own advice, as difficult now to accept his own familiar counsel as that of the members of the Order he so often butted stubbornly against.
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn frowned, breaking from his silent vigil of the storm to cast a thoughtful glance at his mug of cooling liquid. Resolutely he turned away; the hot tea he favored always brought him comfort, a sense of peace – and right now he wanted neither. His thoughts swirled against him, questioning: some mocking, some giving voice to the silent fears he had always harbored as a teacher and guide.
It was an awesome responsibility, to train their young ones, and Qui-Gon had lived through every day of his tutelage of two Padawans – both now Knights, one with a Padawan of his own – with pride, exasperation, joy … and fear. Such fear, that one of his precious ones would be snatched from his floundering, helpless grip by the relentless tentacles of the malevolent side of the Force, the counterbalance to all that was light and good and rejoiced in beauty.
He'd experienced such fear, such a struggle, with his last Padawan to help ground him in the Light, that when the boy had at last mastered the dark despair and doubt that left him blindingly susceptible to the Dark, Qui-Gon had breathed a sigh of relief and sworn to himself never to take another apprentice. It was unbearable, and only by his oath never to train another Padawan could he quiet the terror that pounded in his heart, that teased him mercilessly with the thought of losing an apprentice to the Dark.
Now, the fear that he had quelled was reawakened as he recalled the mandate the Council had given him mere hours ago.
The rain continued to slap at the window, leaving rivulets of water cascading down the sloped glass. He watched, lifting a thickly callused finger to slowly trace one of the trails.
A new Padawan.
He was being assigned a new Padawan.
Qui-Gon allowed a sigh, though it was really more an escape of his heart's sorrow slipping past his lips, lost in a rumble of thunder and swallowed up by the oppressive silence in his apartment. He turned away from the window then, suddenly consumed by a furious energy born of frustration, and began moving around the common room quickly, just to move, putting away his scattered, well-worn books; pacing; moving his teacup here to there and back.
He couldn't move fast enough to keep his thoughts from spilling into his mind's eye.
The Council, in their remarkable – translate: incomprehensible, he appended wryly, and found he was pleased to have retained at least his humor, dry though it was – wisdom, had collectively deemed it appropriate to consign to him a third apprentice. It had been too long, they said. He was getting more and more used to being on his own; he needed someone who was dependent on him, someone he could pass on his experience through the Force to. Qui-Gon snorted in disdain. He didn't want anyone to be dependent on him.
He didn't realize that, in a short time, he would become equally as dependent.
"I don't need another apprentice," he murmured, eyes closed, hand hovering over a datapad he had been about to pick up. "I'm too old for this."
He thought, in the back of his mind, that he heard Yoda laugh.
"I don't need another Padawan," he repeated insistently, wondering why he trying to convince the air in his apartment. "I don't."
But according to the Council under whose auspices he currently labored and chafed, he did, and also according to Master Yoda, who had personally decided the Padawan should be relegated to Jinn's care and consequently swayed, manipulated, and/or bullied the rest of the Council into agreeing with him. Did they not know of his oath? How could they subject him again to the fear awakened by his previous apprentice that had superseded his pride and reduced him to groveling in the ashes of his arrogant belief that he could produce beautifully trained and fully capable apprentices … did they seek to bring him more pain? Did it concern them at all that he had nearly lost his last apprentice to the Dark – how could they trust him to train another?
How could they trust him, when he couldn't trust himself?
And how, he snapped out the thought icily, how could they see it acceptable to go completely over his head and simply drop the Padawan into his care – and not just any Padawan, but a rejected Jedi apprentice who was nearly old enough to take the Trials himself?
The thought made him angry, angry because the Council had disregarded his wishes and more incensed still because he wanted to feel the anger pulsing through him, wanted to be furious with the Council for giving him this responsibility and wanted to be angry with the boy, this unwelcome intrusion into his life. This unwelcome Jedi reject who had been cast off by his previous master and now dumped into Qui-Gon's unwilling keeping as if the Jedi Master could somehow salvage from the charred wreckage something the Council might deem worthy.
The flames of Qui-Gon's swiftly building ire fanned and grew, rising to meet the fury of the storm that still raged outside. He wanted to feel it. He wanted Master Yoda to know exactly how he felt, and the Council, too, if they cared to – though he doubted it. What was the Council thinking? Or were they just going along with Master Yoda? What had the little troll gotten into his head that he had decided he was superior over any of the other Council members and had the right to directly demand he accept this apprentice, this Obi-Wan Kenobi?
A warning nudge from the Living Force that he loved so, and Qui-Gon immediately drew a deep breath and released it slowly, letting his mounting fury bleed away as he exhaled. Breathed in again, out again carefully. As suddenly as the Jedi Master's rage had built, it slid away.
Great. Now he was having anger management issues; his temper was getting the better of him. He might as well just stamp "unworthy" on both his and Kenobi's foreheads right now.
Qui-Gon smiled just slightly, glad again for that tiny vein of humor he could fall back on. He murmured a quick word of both apology and thanks to the Light – and Yoda, if somehow his old Master been privy to Qui-Gon's tirade - though his troubled agitation remained. He increased the speed of his pacing across the well-worn grey carpet, trying to frustrate off his agitation. His … guest should arrive shortly.
He worked at cleaning the common room until he was tossing items absently to the carpet so he could retrieve them again, then sighed tiredly and abandoned his staccato efforts to flop wearily into his old chair where he picked distractedly at a loose thread on the battered arm. Tonight he felt more and more his half-century age than normal.
Half of a century. Force. It might be a mere season to Yoda, but Qui-Gon just felt old.
He should have protested when the Council had informed him that he was about to be granted the teaching rights to Kenobi, a Jedi apprentice nearly half his age and quite likely already comfortably arrogant and set in his ways – and probably no more pleased with their new arrangements than Qui-Gon himself.
The thread unraveled in Qui-Gon's large fingers and he stared at it absentmindedly for a minute before letting it fall to the carpet. He leant his head against the low backrest of the chair and directed his gaze to the ceiling, ice blue eyes tracing the intricate embossed patterns as he listened to the rain outside. The occasional rumbles of thunder were quieting, and the downpour had slowed to what would have passed for a spring shower on Qui-Gon's homeworld.
His thoughts drifted to Kenobi. He'd never met the Padawan, had heard of him only in the most cursory of terms. It hadn't been deemed "necessary" that the Council relate to Qui-Gon the circumstances of Kenobi's rejection by his Master, but there were only so many grounds upon which a master could repudiate his padawan, all of them of the utmost seriousness.
It was, in Qui-Gon's unreserved opinion, an incredibly foolish action on the part of the so-called wisest of the Jedi to relegate Kenobi to Qui-Gon's care, and he'd damned well let Yoda know how he felt. He'd accepted only because he'd had to; there were possibly worse things, he supposed, than teaching rejected apprentices, and he knew the Council would have no qualms whatsoever about finding those worse things and subjecting him to them for disobeying their mandates. Master Yoda could be extraordinarily creative when it came to finding suitable punishments for the wayward.
And after all, it wasn't that he didn't want the boy –
"Yes, it is," he interrupted his own thoughts loudly. "That's absolutely it. I don't want him." He thought he felt a bit of a nudge from the Living Force, but he ignored it. He would have nudged back if he'd had the energy. "I don't want another apprentice."
Apparently, though, how he felt about it didn't matter. Suddenly restless again, Qui-Gon pushed himself out of the depths of his thickly upholstered chair. Instead of resuming his pacing, however, he crossed the few short steps to the hall and peered into the room that had belonged to his former Padawan, his lips tightening into a thin line as he surveyed his earlier handiwork. He had scrubbed the room spotless down to the last centimeter, and while the starkly white, bare-walled space wasn't exactly welcoming, at least it was neat and clean, and furnished with the basic necessities: bed, desk, modest-sized wardrobe. It would suffice for the boy, at any rate.
The tall Jedi Master frowned at the brusqueness of the thought. He wasn't normally so … callous … where others were concerned, and though the thought of becoming the boy's Master was a distinctly uncomfortable one, it didn't mean he shouldn't try to make him feel welcome – even if Qui-Gon did harbor suspicion toward the apprentice, and doubt of his own ability to train another apprentice.
Qui-Gon studied the uninviting room a minute longer before wandering back out into the common room: his own private space, filled to bursting with his books, plants, and papers, and now he would be forced to share the space that had become so intimately his own since the departure of his second Padawan. He felt his mouth tighten in annoyance. The Council were meddlers; there had to be someone else who would take the boy. He was happy, content, and had no need of an apprentice. If the boy needed a master so badly, one of the Council could take him on themselves. Mace, perhaps, or even Master Yoda was without a Padawan at present. Someone else. Not him. Not him, damn it.
The thought held out until the announcer chimed, heralding the arrival of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Qui-Gon glanced at the chrono. Right on the hour. The boy was prompt, if nothing else. As a hasty, half-decided afterthought, he snatched up one of his beloved flowers, an Alderaanian lily, and hurriedly deposited the pot on the empty desk in what would be the Padawan's room. Then he schooled his features into an absolute calm, straightened his tunics, brushed all thoughts of discontent and frustration from his mind, and prepared to meet Kenobi.