Title: The Heart of An Innocent
Disclaimer: I don't own, but I do play with them… quite frequently. EG
Tissue Warning: Yeah sure you betcha!
***This story takes place around JA 6 and 7… kinda like a 'missing moment' type bonding moment thing. I don't know… I'm going for a nap….
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Obi-Wan followed his former master to their quarters, awaiting orders from the council on what was to happen with Obi-Wan's future, and to get more details about the current situation at the temple. The long hallways and rooms were so familiar, yet now seemed unwelcoming to the young protégé. The halls echoed distantly, the sound familiar and at one time, reassuring, but now it seemed hallow, as if the life was sucked out of it, though the temple was still filled with students, masters, and teachers.
//Did it always feel this hollow? Empty? Dead inside?// Obi-Wan wondered to himself. //No. It is still alive… to those who haven't strayed from the path. The Temple will make sure the others, the ones who haven't destroyed their sacred bond with their master, the ones who didn't abandon their training, and buried their life on another planet, with another's culture, will grow, train and be the great Knights the galaxy so desperately needs.// The little voice bit back harshly.
He bowed his head and kept going, feeling tears want to spill down his cheeks from all the emotions swirling around in his heart and mind.
Students scurried from place to place, their normal routines temporarily halted while investigations were underway. Though the Jedi taught patience, there was still a lot of apprehension and fear around the normally calm, serene temple. But little was noticed by the heartbroken Jedi wandering down the corridor, retracing the steps of his youth, a few paces behind the man that he once pledged his life to.
Qui-Gon led the way down the halls, completely ignoring the child tagging along behind him. With a heavy heart he reached the quarters they once shared, with pain and remorse nipping at his angry mind and saddened heart. With the briefest of hesitations, he palmed the panel and activated the door and stepped inside. He went straight to the comm panel in the corner to check for any messages and found the terminal empty. With an irritated sigh he went to the couch and sank down into the comfortable cushions, willing his mind to relax, and hoping that his control would last long enough to see through the investigations into the Temple's siege.
Obi-Wan had remained at the door, feeling out of place in his former home. He watched his master nervously but remained quiet for fear of upsetting the elder any further.
"The council said that you will remain here with me until you can be assigned temporary quarters." Qui-Gon stern voice broke the silence.
//So that was it? No chance for redemption? No chance to EVER be a padawan again?// Obi-Wan cast his eyes down to the floor and nodded sullenly. "Yes master."
Qui-Gon's eyes darted over to the youngster and watched as Obi-Wan's face flushed red while he added, '….Jinn."
"Go to your room until I call for you." Qui-Gon said, turning his attention to the window opposite of the couch. A light rain was beginning to fall, covering the pane with droplets of water.
Obi-Wan hesitated for a moment, then nodded and started towards his room.
"What is it?"
"What is it you want to ask?" Qui-Gon gazed over to Obi-Wan. There was no anger, no contempt, only pain in his eyes. "I can tell you want to ask me something, so, go on with your question."
Obi-Wan opened and closed his mouth to speak, but found no words forthcoming. He cast his eyes down and shook his head. Before he could mutter anything, his stomach growled loud. He quickly put his hand over his stomach, embarrassed, and started to retreat towards his room once again.
"Yes Master…. Jinn?" Obi-Wan swallowed the lump in his throat that saying always caused.
"You look a little thin." Qui-Gon said as he glanced over Obi-Wan. "When was the last time you ate?"
Obi-Wan's brow furrowed as he thought, then sighed, "I can't remember."
"Go get something to eat and then come back here. Try not to be too long in case the council calls." Qui-Gon stared out the window once again, though not seeing everything that was there.
"Yes master." Obi-Wan said lowly. "Would if be ok if I came back here to eat? I really don't feel like being around people right now."
Qui-Gon waved his hand dismissively. "Fine, you can eat in your room."
Obi-Wan bowed, his head down and started towards the door.
"While you're there, get me a tray too. I should eat something as well."
"Yes master." Obi-Wan said as he disappeared out the door before Qui-Gon could protest.
Obi-Wan quickly hurried down the hall to the cafeteria, hoping that he would be able to catch the cooks before they closed up. Slowing down to a stride, he entered the cafeteria, finding it relatively full with students and padawans.
Every set of eyes was on him as he grabbed two trays and explained his orders to the young master in charge of food service. She was from a species similar to council member Poof, with grayish skin, but her neck was shorter, and didn't sway as easily. She had taken to Obi-Wan as soon as she had meet him as a young initiate, the two became fast friends.
"I will get you two covers so you may take your tray back to your room and to your master." L'alle said, then bit her lip at the slip.
Obi-Wan's face seemed pale and his voice was barely over a whisper, "He's not my master anymore."
"Sorry." L'alle said quickly then dashed to get the tray covers.
Obi-Wan put a few pieces of fruit on his tray, feeling his hunger disappear. He felt tears sting his eyes, knowing that this could be the last time he ever comes through the cafeteria line. The last time he talks to his friend. The last time he smells the wonderful aromas of the kitchen. The last time he receives compassion and kindness, before being shipped off to live as a farmer on some desolate world on the Outer Rim.
With a heavy heart be began to place food on Qui-Gon's tray, loading it up with everything he knows his master, former master, likes. Qui-Gon's tray was nearly three times as heavy as Obi-Wan's by the time the boy finished packing food onto it.
L'alle returned from the back with the covers and saw Obi-Wan put a sandwich on his tray, then signal to her that he was ready. She approached him smiling and pointed at his tray, "You must be sick… you left at least half the food on the food line."
Obi-Wan smiled slightly at the attempt at humor and shook his head, "Just not very hungry."
"You? Not very hungry?!" L'alle repeated in mock shock. "I think I'm going to faint!"
Obi-Wan grinned and put another bowl on his tray, then added a dessert. "Better?"
"Much!" L'alle nodded and helped him put the lids on the trays.
"Thank you L'alle." Obi-Wan smiled weakly and left the kitchen, carrying the two food trays.
All eyes stared at him as he walked past, his head lowered, shoulders slumped, and a deep emotional pain emanating from him in waves. Students looked to their masters for an explanation, but only received stern looks and 'non-questioning' gestures. They glared at the padawan, their demeanor quite plainly stated they were severely disappointed in the youth.
Obi-Wan reached the lift and waited patiently, feeling his cheeks still flushed from the scrutiny of so many others that were once his peers. Though they shielded most of their thoughts, the onslaught of so many minds bombarded Obi-Wan, causing him to force stronger shields inside his own mind, though subconsciously, he felt he deserved even more than what they projected to him. Some kind of retribution. A way to make amends for treating one of the most precious honors with disrespect and destroying millennia of forged master/padawan bonds.
The doors opened and he took several deep breaths to calm himself down before he got back to his quarters. Qui-Gon may have seen him cry during his brief tenitature as a padawan, but not now. Qui-Gon wasn't to know of the deep pain that tore at his heart, or the ache he had every time he felt along the training bond now cut off. This emptiness was his and his alone. He made the choice that created this consequence, and he was going to accept it. The pain, the grief, the heartache, the torment, was nothing compared to what he knew his master //former master// was going through, and the terrible way he abandoned his training and sworn oath to be at his masters side to defend those who cant defend themselves.
"Well, look at who we have here! Oafy Wan is back!" Bruck sneered, stepping out of the lift with a couple of his henchmen at his side.
//Just my luck// Obi-Wan thought to himself as he tried to side step the childhood bully blocking his path. "Please Bruck, just let me pass."
"Oh, sounds like Oafy Wan is learning how to beg." Bruck grinned at his three friends that converged on Obi-Wan. "Maybe Master Jinn is thinking about keeping the clumsy fool around for 'serving' duties."
Obi-Wan's eyes flared in momentary anger, "I am NOT clumsy! And I am not here to be a 'servant'."
"Well, Master Jinn tried to train you like a Jedi, but you screwed that up, so the only explanation is, he needs someone to cater to him and you seemed the only reject around that could fill the position." Bruck prodded closer, knowing that Obi-Wan would strike out at anytime.
Obi-Wan only flinched, hot tears started streaming down his face. His voice quavered "Please go away."
"Awww.. look here. The little reject is crying! What's the matter Oafy wan? The truth too painful for your eyes?" One of Brucks henchmen growled.
Tears flooded down Obi-Wan's cheeks as he pushed past the bullies in his way. All the emotions he was taught about and had learned to control was completely useless as he felt his heart literally falling out of his chest and into a thick void of lifelessness, helplessness, of a painful and torturing existence.
"Where do you think you're going?" One of the boys lashed out, tripping Obi-Wan and sending the trays scattering across the floor. Obi-Wan landed heavily on his stomach, temporarily winded from the impact. He buried his face against the cold stone floor, wishing Bruck and his goons would just finish him off and end his torment.
The boys laughed and joked as they left the crying Jedi on the floor. "Told you he was clumsy!" "What a waste" "Glad he isn't one of us anymore." "We will be Jedi Knights, and he will be stuck being a servant the rest of his life."
The jeering faded away as Obi-Wan lay on the floor, crying out pent up hurt and anger, the anger was mainly at himself for being so self centered and foolish while on Melida/Daan. If he had only listened to his master, none of terrible things would have happened, and he wouldn't be plagued by nightmares, turbulent emotions, and terrible heartache at the thought of being banished from the Order.
After crying for an unknown amount of time, Obi-Wan pulled himself up off the floor and looked at the trays. One tray was turned upside down, the contents of it spilling out all over the floor. The other tray was leaning against the other one, tipping precariously and threatening to spill its contents on the floor.
Obi-Wan crawled over to the mess and carefully put the trays on the floor and surveyed the situation. Everything on his tray was salvageable, having been wrapped in a plastic wrap or been double covered by disposable containers. His masters' tray wasn't so lucky, having had everything dumped onto the floor and splattered all over the wall. Soup dripped down to the floor, vegetables littered the hallway, fruit stuck to the door of the lift and a dessert pastry was smashed into the tray lid.
Sighing, Obi-Wan picked up the food and started to clean up the mess, going down the hall and retrieving a cleaning unit and wiping up the mess made by the bullies. When he finished, he carried both trays back to the kitchen and found everything closed and the place deserted.
Obi-Wan dumped his masters tray and carried his own back to their quarters. "I wasn't really hungry anyway." Obi-Wan said under his breath on the way back to his quarters, trying his best to stop the sniffling and spasms caused by all the crying. He wiped his face with his sleeve and took several deeps breaths, trying to find a calm center.
When Obi-Wan entered, Qui-Gon was pacing furiously across the floor.
Qui-Gon stared at Obi-Wan hard. "Just where in the Sith have you been?"
"I'm sorry master…. Jinn, but I ran into someone and lost track of time." Obi-Wan lowered his head as he explained, partially in sorrow, and the vain attempt to keep his former master from seeing the tears that were welling up in his eyes. //It wasn't a lie.. it just wasn't the whole truth.//
Qui-Gon was going to rebuke Obi-Wan for using his former title, but the boy quickly fixed his slip up before the master could release a tirade. He glared down at Obi-wan and a part of him felt guilty for being so cruel and callous towards him, but then he remembered the betrayal, and the pain, then his resolved strengthened. "I certainly hope you enjoyed yourself while you wasted time. The council wanted to see us and I couldn't find you, so they had to reschedule your hearing for tomorrow morning!"
"I'm sorry Master…. But.. but I…"
"DO NOT CALL ME MASTER!" Qui-Gon's voice raised to a dangerous level.
"I'm sorry." Obi-Wan's voice cracked, betraying his tears which now fell in abundance on his cheeks as he looked up into Qui-Gon's furious eyes. "I didn't have a commlink, and we never had a strong bond, so I didn't know. I swear, I'm sorry!"
Qui-Gon felt like he was shot straight through the heart. Obi-Wan was right on all accounts, and the thing that bothered him the most was, he never shared a bond with the youngster like they should have had. He felt guilt twinge at him, then a deep pain. He looked down and noticed Obi-Wan's eyes were cast down again, staring at the floor. Little drops fell on the floor as he wept quietly. His body was visibly trembling and his hands were balled up into fists. Muffled sobs and little sniffles escaped from him in shortened gasps.
Qui-Gon realized what he had done wrong. It wasn't Obi-Wan's fault he was so distant and unresponsive at times. The boy had followed him unquestioningly, fought by his side without explanation, been the ever constant presence by him, even if he didn't want it. And now he realized that Obi-Wan had bonded to him, subconsciously, but nether the less, it was there. And he had never done anything to strengthen it, only shoved it aside and treated it, and the boy, with distance and coldness.
The newfound knowledge made the master flinch, physically and mentally. His own stubbornness had prevented him from opening up his heart, and giving all he could to the boy that had found that cold place left by Xanatos and brought light, warmth, and joy to an otherwise empty existence. The tall master realized that Obi-Wan made his decision on Melida/Daan because the alternative was to spend a lifetime being overshadowed and kept at a distance from the person he had unknowingly bonded to.
//Who did the worse betrayal? Obi-Wan or myself?// Qui-Gon reached out and placed his hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, feeling it tremble. "Obi-Wan, I'm sorry I raised my voice to you. I am sorry.. for a whole lot of things."
Obi-Wan's redden eyes looked up as the tears still streamed down his face.
"There are some things that I need to sort out. Things you wouldn't understand. And until I can figure them out, I need you to give me some time. Can you do that?"
Obi-Wan nodded, not daring to test his voice. A lump had positioned itself in his throat and he swallowed down tears and sobs to dislodge the constriction.
"Good. Why don't you go and meditate for awhile in your room?"
Obi-Wan shook his head, wiped his eyes on his tunic sleeve, and disappeared into his room.
Qui-Gon sighed and looked at the tray that Obi-Wan had brought. He sighed, knowing that he should at least eat something, and removed the lid. He frowned at the small quantity on the tray, and made a note to teach Obi-Wan about proportion.
Qui-Gon looked around confused, wondering where that stray thought came from and its implications. With a lot of issues to sort out, and complicated emotions swirling around in his head, he ate quickly, then settled down on the floor. He closed his eyes and slipped into a deep meditation.
The door chime pulled the Jedi Master out of his mediation and he rose stiffly off the floor to answer the call. Checking the chrono on the wall, and the darkened cityscape of Coruscant, Qui-Gon realized that several hours had passed.
The door opened up to reveal Bant, a good childhood friend of Obi-Wan's. "Master Jinn, I'm sorry to bother you, but is Obi-Wan ok?"
Qui-Gon stared at the girl for a moment, completely at a loss as to why Obi-Wan wouldn't be ok. "What do you mean?"
"I heard about Obi-Wan running into Bruck. He attacked Obi-Wan, knocking his food out of his hands, and that Obi-Wan broke down and cried on the floor." Bant bit her lip, thinking she said too much already.
"Obi-Wan is just fine Bant, he's in his room mediating. I will tell him you stopped by." Qui-Gon smiled at the young Calamarian.
"Please tell him that if he needs to talk, he knows where to find me." Bant smiled back, not bothering to cover her worry.
"I will tell him. Thank you for your concern and your information, Bant." Qui-Gon nodded and watched as the girl disappeared down the hall.
Qui-Gon closed the door and opened up his senses to search for Obi-Wan and found a calm peace coming from the boy. He sighed as he knocked softly on Obi-Wan's door. After a couple of attempts, the jedi master opened the door and found the youth sitting on the floor in his mediation spot, sound asleep with his head resting funny against the wall.
Smiling to himself, Qui-Gon lifted the boy up and placed him in his bed, pulling up the blankets to a now snuggling form. He was about to leave when he noticed several ration wrappers on the floor, then he recollected everything that happened.
The tray of food Obi-Wan brought was his own, giving up his dinner to his master and settling for a couple of ration bars to eat.
The knowledge made the Jedi Master crumble, tears fell from his eyes, and severe guilt overcoming him. Though he had treated Obi-Wan with little feeling, and wasn't even sure if he wanted him anymore, Obi-Wan had still respected the elder, having given him the only food tray and ate bland tasting ration bars.
Qui-Gon went to Obi-Wan's side and wiped off his tears, then placed a gentle hand on the youths forehead.
"Night master." Obi-Wan whispered in his sleep.
"Good night Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon spoke softly.
Obi-Wan took a deep breath and rolled over, his sleepy voice nearly drowned out by blankets, "Love you."