Short chapter up… sorry it's short, but I'm writing another chapter (though it will be a few days before it's posted because I'll probably lose power).
I wanted to be on Noori.
Qui-Gon woke from a restless sleep. Tahl's voice from a dream lingered in his thoughts. They had arrived on Noori late at night and had found a room at a traveler's inn at the spaceport. Now it was morning. Travis was asleep after waking up several times in the night in the portable crib next to the sleepcouch. Tahl was still asleep on his left side. He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. She opened her eyes and raised an eyebrow, smiling at the tender moment, while he grew self conscious and retreated as she stared him down. It amused him... the effect she could have on him. With the moment passed, she was now smiling at a private joke. "I remember a conversation we had once," she explained before he had a chance to ask. "I said that you were reserved, and traveled, the galaxy, and didn't have a family, and how you were such a mysterious character. You smiled and said you preferred it that way. You were so stubborn."
"Only you could change me," He smiled, letting her finger trace its outline. "And you gave me a family, and with that, well… I'm not so secretive, am I?" It was true. He had no secrets. Tahl had been his last one.
"Not so mysterious now. Just Qui-Gon Jinn," Tahl agreed. She was testing him, in that way she always did, always helping him stay sure footed.
"Just Qui-Gon Jinn. And just Tahl." No Jedi. He sat up. "I'm excited, to be honest." He looked over at Travis, who was wide awake, but kept quiet, like he wanted to listen in on something important.
"Excited to meet the rest of our family? My parents are expecting us today." Tahl sighed and swung her legs over the sleepcouch. It was then that Travis let out a cry. "Why didn't you tell me he was awake?" She got up and navigated her way around the sleepcouch to the crib.
"I forgot," Qui-Gon admitted.
"Forgot that your only son was two feet away from you and hungry?" Tahl snorted.
"No, forgot you couldn't see him," Qui-Gon said bluntly. "You're amazingly perceptive. You look people in the eye when you talk, search their faces. When you hold Travis you look right to him. You can walk anywhere without help."
"If you can forget that I'm blind, then I suppose my quest to be self sufficient is complete," Tahl said good naturedly.
"I wouldn't be too sure," Qui-Gon teased, remembering the days when he tried to help her. His caring infuriated her and motivated her to learn how to do things on her own. He asked quietly, "does your family know?"
"Of course. They don't know the story behind the accident. But I barely know what they've been up to all these years. My parents have been retired a long time. But there's something about a family fishing business." She brought Travis with her as she sat on the sleepcouch and began feeding him. "Must sound funny. Here I am bragging about being self sufficient and I'm about to go back and live with my parents."
"We can be on our own in two weeks. Starting tomorrow I'll look for a job," said Qui-Gon earnestly.
"I believe you." Tahl frowned. "It will be a while before I can leave Travis with someone, but I'd like to find a job too. Maybe one where I can work from home."
"You have time."
"Or," she exclaimed, "You could work from home while I get the big job in two weeks."
Qui-Gon considered that. "I honestly don't know if I'd be able to handle Travis on my own."
"And I don't know if I could manage a full time job like this," Tahl shrugged.
"I would probably need a wet nurse since you haven't been able to get Travis to drink from a bottle," Qui-Gon threatened jokingly.
Tahl's eyes widened. "Give him time! And don't you dare!"
He laughed and she smacked him on the arm. "Get up and get ready, you good for nothing sleemo."
Obi-Wan woke up feeling empty. Like something was missing.
He checked every corner of the Temple. The gardens, cafeterias, gyms, classrooms, meditation rooms, and meeting rooms. Finally he checked Qui-Gon quarters. They were clean, as usual, except for a lightsaber lying on the table.
That's when he knew. For all his dreaming and delusions, trying to convince himself he wasn't gone… he was gone. He had known it from the start. The Force was out of place; where he should have been there was nothing.
He sunk to the floor. He stuffed the front of his tunic in his mouth to keep from screaming. He had been betrayed. Qui-Gon had betrayed all of them. It was like he couldn't care less what happened to his Padawan. He left him for a wife and a baby and possessions, and most of all he had left to be free from the Council, the rules that tied him down, that had become suffocating.
And now Obi-Wan was suffocating.
"There you are." Bant's quiet voice was behind him. He didn't know how long he had been in Qui-Gon's quarters or how long it had taken to find him. "I'm sorry. Obi-Wan." She knelt down next to him. He imagined how he must look. He pulled his tunic out of his mouth and sat back on his heels. He took long, deep breaths.
"So Tahl's gone too?" He asked shakily. What a stupid question. Bant must know how stupid it sounded. How it must mock her.
To his surprise she calmly replied, "Yes, and Travis. Records show they left last night."
"I'm sorry." Obi-Wan stared at his hands. Here he was only concerned for himself while his best friend was in the same situation he was. "You had to come and find me. I was only thinking of myself."
"I'm not upset anymore. Tahl hasn't been my master for a long time. Things have been falling apart for a while now," Bant explained. "Are you alright?"
"…Yes." Obi-Wan wouldn't let himself do this. He wouldn't become a slave of the past like Qui-Gon had when his former Padawan, Xanatos, betrayed him. Thinking like that brought back thoughts of when he had left Qui-Gon, in order to fight with the youth on Melinda-Daan. That time he was the traitor, but Qui-Gon had accepted him again because he had believed in what they had had in the past. Well, Obi-Wan wouldn't succumb to that. He'd leave everything behind where it belonged so he couldn't make the same mistakes Qui-Gon made. He took her hand. "We need to talk to Yoda. We need to find new masters." He jumped to his feet and turned to the door.
"Obi-Wan." Bant stopped him. "I already have a master… Master Kit Fisto, when he learned what happened, asked the Council and then asked me.
"Oh," Obi-Wan said dumbly. "Congratulations." He should have known it would happen. Bant had been training with Master Fisto often.
"I'll come with you to Yoda though." She squeezed his hand when he started to object. "I need his guidance too."
Whatever guidance she needed, she didn't ask for it, and Obi-Wan was sure she didn't get it, because he did all the talking.
"A Master, you will need," Yoda agreed. He, like Bant, had not been surprised when Qui-Gon and Tahl left. But he was deeply disappointed. "Ready Obi-Wan you are not."
"What?" He burst out. Then he felt chastised, although Yoda didn't acknowledge his rudeness. "I need a mission."
"I've been at the Temple for too long already," he continued.
Yoda sighed. "Need time, you do, to let go. To accept and forgive Qui-Gon."
To forgive him. To let him go. It was the Jedi way, but could he bring himself to do it?
"Then I will need a master to guide me through that," he challenged.
"No. This you must do for yourself."
This is a test, Obi-Wan thought. Fine, he'd find a way to pass it. "Yes, Master."
"Good. Then ready you will be." Yoda dismissed them.
As they exited the quarters Mace Windu appeared from around the corner. He acknowledged the two of them. "We will have masters for you both. You will be able to complete your Jedi training."
"Thank you." Bant bowed slightly.
Obi-Wan wondered what Mace thought about Qui-Gon and Tahl now. Qui-Gon had clashed with Mace the most. He felt Bant prodding him and quickly followed her example. "Thank you." He felt the eyes of Jedi follow him back to his quarters. It was a solemn day for the Temple. Two Jedi lost.
He spent the day meditating, letting go of his emotions. He made peace with his memories of Qui-Gon and let them be his companion. He began to feel respect for what Qui-Gon had taught him for many years. But his dreams were not as kind to him. They were full of betrayals- Xanatos on Bandomeer and Telos, himself on Melinda Daan, Qui-Gon on New Apsolon.
And when he woke, the dreams hovered over him.