AUTHOR: Cascadia
TIME: 7 years pre-TPM, Obi-Wan is 18
RATING: PG-13 (substance abuse, violence)
CATEGORY: Angst/Drama, Non-Slash
SUMMARY: Obi-Wan has a serious problem he tries to keep from Qui-Gon. But how hard will that be while on a mission?
ARCHIVE: Please ask first.
DISCLAIMER: Star Wars, Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gon are the property of Lucasfilm Limited. All other characters belong to me. I receive no profit from this.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Anything between * * are personal thoughts. Anything between // // are Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon talking through their bond.


The thick jungle was quiet, save for a lonely birdsong wafting through the air. It was a beautiful sound, but melancholy - a sad song of loneliness, hopelessness. Perhaps it was a serenade to the lonely, lost figure in the jungle's midst. Running, tripping over raised roots and twisted vines, he paused periodically, leaning against tree trunks, unable to continue until rested or until a stabbing pain was past. A mysterious mist hung about the floor of the valley. The thick moisture clung to everything, including the young Jedi who wandered about aimlessly through the murk.

The incredible darkness would have made direction impossible if not for Obi-Wan's Force sense, tenuous as it was from his lack of serious meditation for weeks. But he had somehow managed to tap a small amount for Force-enhanced night vision.

He fell to his hands as a sharp pain enveloped him. Squeezing his eyes closed, he willed the abdominal pain to stop. But it did not relent. It only grew in intensity each time it hit him. He thought it was bad before, but the pain had steadily increased as the hours passed. Now it was unbearable, and the Force didn't seem to help him anymore.

*Why won't the Force help me? Is it so limited? How much worse can the pain get? I can't take anymore. Please, Force, make it stop.*

He realized he was chilled, but his robe was back at the campsite. One more discomfort to add to his list of problems. He wrapped his arms around himself trying to create some warmth.

Just as another pain stabbed him, he was jerked up to a standing position - although unsteady - for he wavered with dizziness. He would have collapsed to the ground had the strong arms let go. He felt the arms tighten as his knees gave out. He was gently laid on his back, as he cried out from another sharp pain stabbing him mercilessly. He felt like a knife was turning and twisting within him.

"Don't hold it in, padawan," said a gentle voice. "If you feel like screaming, don't hold it in. You will survive."

"Master, can I have my medicine?" he begged.

"No, padawan."

"Please... please... I need it, Master," his pain-filled voice said.

"No, Obi-Wan. Can't you see what this has done to you?" He paused to make sure the younger man was listening. "You're begging me.... You can make it past this. Just reach out to the Force."

"But I can't. It hurts too much. The Force won't help me anymore. It can't. Why can't it help me anymore, Master" Obi-Wan struggled to free himself from Qui-Gon, but was held tight. The young Jedi cried out again - his breathing becoming labored. "No... no, master. I'm going to be sick. Help me, Master. I can't take this."

Qui-Gon turned Obi-Wan to his side just in time as his stomach rebelled and spilled its contents to the ground. The young man heaved over and over, leaving the ground a mess of putrid slick fluid. When Qui-Gon was sure Obi-Wan was done he turned the young Jedi to his back again.

"Cold." Obi-Wan said.

Qui-Gon shrugged off his robe and wrapped it around the trembling padawan.

"You've been neglecting your meditation since the addiction. Haven't you, padawan? That is why you fail to see the limitless power that is the Force. Your loss of a strong connection has blinded you." His voice was gentle, yet firm. "As Jedi, we have only barely tapped the power that is available. It is so much more than any of us have experienced." He paused to ensure that Obi-Wan was listening. "Reach out to the Force, padawan," Qui-Gon instructed as he sent Force waves to the young man. He saw the pain-filled blue eyes of his padawan staring back at him. Obi-Wan cried out again, jerking as he caught the full swell of another sharp pain. "It is stronger than any problem, any pain you could ever have. Feel it. Rest in it. We are not beyond it. It is not a crutch, for we are made more powerful with it than we could ever be without it. Reach out, padawan. Give yourself to the Force. You can do it." He sent another wave of healing Force energy into the young man.

"No, I can't reach it anymore. Hurts... too much."

"I will help you. Calm your mind. Open yourself to the Force. Receive it," Qui-Gon said. He sent a healing wave to the young man. "That's right, padawan. Receive it. It is all around us. It is within us. It is life. It is peace." He sent another wave.

Obi-Wan seemed to relax for a second until another pain stabbed him. Qui-Gon still held the padawan tightly, sending waves of peace and comfort to him. Obi-Wan stared in Qui-Gon's eyes, seeking a calm center. Obi-Wan cried out again, screaming as he felt pain stab his abdomen again. *It can't get any worse. It can't.*

"Master," Obi-Wan said through hitched breathing. "Master... I'm... sorry I... lied to you... It was wrong, and I... am sorry." He cried out again in pain.

Qui-Gon listened as he firmly held his padawan and sent healing Force waves to him.

"Master," he began again. "I want... you... to trust me.... I... need you to... trust me.... Please Master, I can't go on... if you dismiss me." He screamed from a swell of pain.

Qui-Gon tightened his hold on the young Jedi. It hurt to see Obi-Wan suffering so much. He loved the young man like his own son. "Obi-Wan, I will never dismiss you. You are more than an apprentice to me. You are as much a son as I have ever had."

Obi-Wan screamed again. When he recovered, his eyes searched Qui-Gon's for any sign of doubt and found none. "Help me, Master." Now Obi-Wan's eyes seemed clearer, more confident.

"I am, Obi-Wan," he reassured. "The Force is here... alive. Feel it. It is within me... within you... within this jungle. Receive it." He sent more healing waves. "Receive it." Qui-Gon felt Obi-Wan relaxing more and reaching for the strong Force waves. "That's right, padawan. Be still. Be calm. Listen to it. It is here. Open yourself to it. Feel the peace of its presence. Receive it."

Another jab of pain made Obi-Wan cry out again, but he seemed more at peace than previously and recovered much faster from the pain.

"That's right, padawan. You're doing well," Qui-Gon encouraged.

"Sick," Obi-Wan said through clenched teeth. The elder man turned him to his side, supporting him as he vomited.

A snarling noise interrupted them just as Qui-Gon laid Obi-Wan on his back again. Obi-Wan whimpered softly. He was already distressed, and some wild creature threatening them was not helping his state of mind.

The snarl came again - this time closer.

"Master?" The padawan whined.

"Be still, Obi-Wan. I will handle everything." Qui-Gon stood and drew his lightsabre, igniting it. Calling upon the Force, he turned his back to the padawan and reached out to sense the creature nearby. Then he raised the blade of his lightsabre in a combat-ready position.

Obi-Wan's eyes were glued to his master. Qui-Gon had become a source of security to him in his despondency. He was sure that Qui-Gon would protect him. Even so, he wished he could get up and help, but was sure he would faint if he tried. So, he concentrated on stilling his breathing.

The jungle became quiet, save for Obi-Wan's hitched breathing. Qui-Gon stood still. Quickly, he turned, anticipating the creature's jump towards him. Stepping aside, he sliced down with his sabre in one fluid motion, beheading the attacker in mid-air. It howled, giving its last breath as it fell in two parts to the ground in a heavy thud.

Qui-Gon quickly examined the creature before turning off his lightsabre. Then he knelt beside his padawan and replaced the weapon to his belt. "We need to get back to our camp, Obi-Wan. It is not safe out here." He searched the young man's eyes, looking for understanding. "Can you walk, padawan?"

"Don't know... Master." He was a little more calm than before, but the steady pain still dulled his senses.

Qui-Gon helped Obi-Wan into a sitting position, pausing to see if he would be fine. The young Jedi almost felt that the things happening were not real, like it was all a dream. The padawan felt very weak as he was pulled to his feet and swayed as Qui-Gon held him up. He sagged against the taller man, barely able to comprehend which way was up or down.

"Master," came the muffled reply. "Don't think... I can... make it." Then he cried out, doubling over, as pain tore through him again.

But he was getting better. The pain was less this time. *Thank you, Force.* He was relieved when he realized that his connection to the Force was stronger.

Qui-Gon scooped him up and carried him back to their camp.

When they arrived it was nearly dawn. Qui-Gon laid Obi-Wan down near the wrecked shuttle and covered the semi-conscious padawan with his robe and his padawan's robe. He found a pillow salvaged from the shuttle and placed it under his head. Then he knelt down to meditate.

Qui-Gon knew that even though Obi-Wan would survive withdrawal from the drug, it was not over. It would still be difficult for Obi-Wan if he found himself in a situation where he could be tempted to take the drug again. THAT problem would have to be tackled when, or if, the situation ever arrived - for a weakness can only be conquered when it is faced.

Obi-Wan drifted in and out of consciousness, awaking when he was seized by a sharp pain, then falling asleep quickly afterwards. He maintained a firm, but weak, Force connection throughout his suffering.

When he awoke to a more lucid awareness, he found that all the pain was gone. He reached out to the Force and was amazed to feel it rush upon him, sweeping away all doubt. He opened his eyes to a bright daylight and looked around, searching for his master. He didn't see him, so he rolled on his side to push himself to his knees.

"Master?" his voice stronger than he thought it would be. Silence. He steadied himself and stood up, swaying. "Master?" he tried again.

Fehrion came out of the shuttle. "Apprentice Kenobi. How are you feeling?" He asked, smiling.

Confused, Obi-Wan looked at him a few seconds before answering. "I'm... I'm fine.... I think." Fehrion chuckled. "Where's Master Qui-Gon?" he asked the Twi'lek.

"He's exploring. He's been doing alot of that." Fehrion noted Obi-Wan's confusion, remembering that the young Jedi had been out for a long time. "You've been asleep for three days. I'm sorry. I should have thought of that. Master Jinn has been doing some sightseeing on this planet. Perhaps when he returns he will show you."

"I've been asleep that long?"

"Yes. There is some food prepared there by the heat lamp. Have as much as you want. You should be hungry after fasting that long. If you don't mind, I need to prepare things for departure when the rescue ship gets here. It should be here in a few hours." He returned to gathering supplies.

"Thank you, Captain." Obi-Wan sat next to the heat lamp and took some of the food to eat. He didn't feel like eating much, so after a few bites he settled into a deep meditation.

The Force swirled around him. It seemed to come easy. It was almost overwhelming - yet gentle, caring. *Master Qui-Gon was right. The Force is so much more than we can possibly imagine.... It's beyond our simple understanding. But not beyond our grasp.... I never should have doubted it. True, the Force is always there, but we have to open ourselves to it. It does not take control without asking... like the drug. It responds to us, if we call to it.*

Hours later, the padawan emerged from his meditation, feeling refreshed. Opening his eyes, he looked around. Things appeared brighter, more alive than before. He seemed to get a Force sense from everything around him - the life of everything speaking to him... at this very moment. It was a real connection in the present... a very sobering reality... discernment and guidance beyond all his previous experiences. He felt more alive than he ever had. *The Living Force.*

He rose and searched for his master's presence, discovering that the man in question was heading his way. He stood up, eager to see the Jedi master when he arrived.

Qui-Gon emerged from thick jungle foliage, carrying with him the drangmul pup. "Padawan." He walked towards the young Jedi.


Qui-Gon pulled Obi-Wan in a firm hug.

"Master?" came a muffled voice. "You're crushing me."

Qui-Gon pulled him back, holding him at arms length. "I'm sorry, padawan. I've missed you." The master's eyes shone. The pup yapped and sniffed at Obi-Wan. "She's missed you, too," he chuckled. "I'm glad you're well."

"As am I, Master."

"Padawan?" Qui-Gon started. "I have been hiking through this valley and have found some wonderful things. Come. Let me show you." He led the young Jedi back the way he had come, showing him many breathtaking views - including a beautiful waterfall surrounded by exotic flowers and moss.

"This place is sure different during the day," Obi-Wan observed.

As they admired the falls, Obi-Wan felt the Force all around them. He drank in the energizing waves, realizing that this was the most important part of his life - his connection to the Force. He vowed to never let that link fail again.


"Yes, Obi-Wan?"

"You are right about the Force," Obi-Wan said. "It is amazing. Do you know something else, Master?" he continued.

"What, padawan?"

"You're very wise, Master."

"I'm glad you think so, padawan." The Jedi master smiled at the padawan who stood beside him. "But there is one thing that even I don't know."

"What is that, Master?" Obi-Wan frowned at him.

"How are we going to keep Master Sariel a secret?" They both laughed, and the pup in Obi-Wan's arms yapped in response.


AUTHOR'S NOTES: I hope you liked it. Please... DON'T forget to review. :D Keep a look out for the short humor sequel that will follow soon.