Title: Out Of Hate, Love
Author: Amy Fortuna (amyfortuna@yahoo.com)
Pairing: Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan
Rating: PG
Archive: MA, others please ask.
Summary: A feuding planet, a falling tower, a rescued child, and love out of hate. A September 11th memorial story.
Notes: First published in "For Those Who Wait," the September 11th memorial zine.

----

In the silence after the fall of the great tower, the world became dim. The dust blocked sight, sound, everything. For a few moments, he wondered if he had gone blind and deaf. The sting of wind, a frozen biting darkness blowing into his open eyes, was more painful than the nerve-tingling lightsaber slaps he had received so often in the past. His eyes watered from the dust, leaving tracks of tears down his face.

Carefully, he moved out into the open, where people were lying on the ground, senseless or dead. He moved slowly, hands and knees braced for another shock of earthquake, or another building falling. Cautious, he touched the bodies of the humans who lay numb from shock and horror.

There were muffled groans from a small shelter a short distance away. He made his way over to them, and peered inside. The body of a young woman lay there, and beside her was her husband, in pain, but not quite dead. He held a small child, who appeared, at first glance, to be unhurt.

"Pro-tect-ed," the man gasped out in rudimentary Basic, the word referring to the child. "You take."

Qui-Gon Jinn knelt, and took the child from the wounded man's arms.

"Oh-bee-one," the man said, and lay back, surrendering to the pain.

Obi-Wan. The name was simple Old Basic, meaning "prince of pain." This child of grief, born in the time of tumult, had been given a name most appropriate, Qui-Gon thought.

Four thousand standard years ago, there had been a prophecy that war would never cease between the members of two ancient houses, the sons of one of the great ancestors. And since that time, war never had ceased. Oh, it would lull for a few years, but always there was the hate between them, always the pain. Each had developed their own religion and their own way of life. The planet had been practically split between the two families and their allies, until there was no middle ground.

And in the last ten years, the feud had begun to escalate once again. Trade agreements were canceled. The poor were caught in the middle of all this, yanked back and forth by both sides. Their religious differences had become sharpened.

Lately, this small planet had become known as the planet 'Ken-obi,' the planet of pain or of division. Qui-Gon had come here in a last attempt to try to reconciliate the two warring families.

He had failed. This latest attack was the proof of it. There was no escape from the doom this planet had marked out as its course.

And this child. Obi-Wan was Force-sensitive, very strongly so. Would it not be best to save him, even if no one else could be saved?

Well Qui-Gon knew what the reactions of the leaders would be. They were so fanatical that they could not see beyond the way their eyes were shaped. This would mean war, full-scale, and guaranteed to do only one thing: leave the planet a smoldering desert.

He rose, and walked away with the child, unmissed and unnoticed. Within a few days he was on his way back to Coruscant with Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Six standard weeks after that, the planet exploded in a blaze of nuclear fire. Their hate had finally destroyed them. And of the planet lately called Kenobi, the child Obi-Wan was the only survivor, the prince of pain from the planet of pain.

****

Ten years later

"He fights with anger," a senior padawan, Adi Gallia, said, her voice a whisper to her master.

Qui-Gon was listening to the master-padawan pair converse over the sparring initiates, idly judging the children in the gym on their saber skills and their focus. Obi-Wan was the one being referred to, and despite Adi's words, Qui-Gon could see no anger in him, only fierce determination.

"Padawan." He turned to Adi. "If I may speak?" Her master nodded, and Qui-Gon bowed his head slightly, given permission to instruct another's apprentice for a moment. "Observe more closely. He tightens his lips, true, but it is with determination, not anger. Observe the Force aura, padawan. The light in him shines pure, not tainted with negative emotion. He is strong-willed, and will be a challenge for the master who takes him, but he is not angry."

Adi bowed her head in acknowledgement. "Accepted, master," she said. "And you are correct, I spoke without thinking."

"That is what a Jedi should be careful never to do," he reminded her.

"Indeed," Adi's master said to both her and Qui-Gon. "But my friend, do you seek a padawan? If you are, there would be the one for you. He would be too much for many masters, but I doubt not you could be the fit one to guide him into knighthood."

"I," Qui-Gon began and stopped. "I do not know."

Obi-Wan chose that moment to glance up into the observation deck where the Jedi were standing. His eyes met Qui-Gon's and in that moment, Qui-Gon knew, with the foresight of a Jedi, that they two would be bound in some deep way, forever.

When their look broke, Qui-Gon turned back to his friend, eyes shining. "It seems, my friend," he said, smiling," that I have a padawan, whether I would or no."

"It does seem so, yes," Adi's master laughed, and together they walked down to the floor of the gym to collect Obi-Wan.

****

Five years later

Jedi were not supposed to giggle, Obi-Wan reminded himself. They were supposed to be straight-faced and solemn and...the padawan broke down laughing again.

"You did what to Mace Windu's head? I can't believe it! You're Qui-Gon Jinn, the great Jedi master. You wouldn't *polish* your best friend's head!"

"I wasn't the only one, I just wielded the chrome shiner," Qui-Gon answered, laughing himself. "With the Force," he went on. "We were still padawans, and I hadn't quite gotten full control of the Force yet. Once I almost let the can fall on his head, but a couple of friends rescued me."

"I bet Master Yoda was mad," Obi-Wan said, still giggling. "'Polish a Jedi's head, you do *not*!'"

"Actually, he wasn't that upset," Qui-Gon mused. "'When eight hundred years old you are, many things you will have seen.' Mace was really angry, though. He takes himself so seriously sometimes."

"So now he gives you the rainwater missions, instead of the diplomatic dinners," Obi-Wan suggested, finally becoming sober.

"No," Qui-Gon said, "it's just that I'm good at the missions no one else wants, like tracking down an Outer Rim scourge and bringing him back dead or alive."

"As we are going to do with Labin," Obi-Wan said.

"Precisely, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon said. "Now, gather your things. We have a transport to catch."

****

Siev Labin was a Dug, with feet that could be used as hands and vice versa. He was as lean as a whip and twice as scary. He had last been seen on Tattoine, fleeing after destroying several Republic giant transports, all of which were filled with thousands of innocents. The entire Republic had been shocked at the tragedy and filled with a resolve to catch Labin and see him punished for his crimes. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan had been assigned to retrieve him.

Chancellor Valorum himself came to beg the pair to take the mission, drawing shamelessly on his years of friendship with Qui-Gon. He spoke to them in private just before they left, giving them some last briefings.

"It is thought that Labin was born on the destroyed planet, Ken-obi," he said. "He is, along with Obi-Wan here, one of the last few survivors. This fact may be playing into his hatred of the rest of the galaxy."

Obi-Wan, who knew his own history and that of his birth-planet quite well, spoke up. "Is it possible that his religion is that of one of the two families?"

"I do not know," the Chancellor answered. Qui-Gon bowed his head.

"We shall do our best to ferret out this scum of the universe and drag him to justice."

"Dead or alive," Valorum said, and there was a note of steel in his voice.

****

They spent the better part of three tendays on Tattoine, following a trail that at times seemed as though it surely must be cold. Obi-Wan was growing frustrated, but Qui-Gon just kept going, doggedly searching.

"This desert is impossible! Who would live here, anyway?" Obi-Wan complained one evening, pushed beyond the limit of his endurance.

Qui-Gon was calm. "Those who have to," he said. "We'll find him, Obi-Wan, don't worry. He can't run forever, and he can't leave the planet. The ports are under tight surveillance and all the aircraft have been grounded until he is caught. It won't be long."

"Is there any part of the planet we haven't looked?" Obi-Wan asked impatiently. "Or is he doubling back on his trail and really tracking us, instead of the other way around?"

"I don't know," Qui-Gon said. "All we can do is go on. He wants this to end as much as we do, I think, and therefore will try to catch us off our guard. Be careful."

Qui-Gon had the first watch that night, and so Obi-Wan sank into a deep sleep, only waking when he heard Qui-Gon's lightsaber powering up and Qui-Gon's low command to get up.

"Labin, I think," Qui-Gon said.

A single-person racer came out of nowhere, and both Jedi ducked to miss it, Qui-Gon swiping at the control panel with his saber and just barely hitting it.

"He can't control it now, I hope," Qui-Gon said.

The racer slowed down and came to a stop a few hundred meters away, sputtering. Out of the darkness they heard a voice swearing in Huttese.

"Labin?" Obi-Wan spoke, and heard the reply.

"Yes."

"It's time to pay," Qui-Gon said fiercely.

"I don't think so," the Dug returned, and sprang at them, a knife in each of his four hands.

It was better if they could bring him back alive, and so Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan settled for merely pinning him down, not destroying him.

"Torture's too decent for you," Obi-Wan growled when they finally had him subdued and bound.

Qui-Gon lit a glowrod, and for the first time they saw their captive's face. It was undoubtedly Labin, but worn and tired. All his associates had apparently turned on him, and he had been wandering the desert for days now.

"Obi-Wan, go see if that racer is working at all," Qui-Gon said and Obi-Wan did as he was told.

"Why?" was the only thing he heard from Qui-Gon as he walked away. He did not hear Labin's answer.

****

Labin was tried in the Senate chamber, and, on behalf of the Republic, sentenced to death by fire. Obi-Wan never found the answer to his question as to whether Labin had been a friend of one of the families that had fought over Ken-obi.

Why was never known, either. Hate, it seemed, had been the only motivation for the crimes against the Republic.

"Hate leads to suffering," Obi-Wan mused, several years later, lying on the couch one afternoon. Qui-Gon looked up from the datapad he was reading.

"Yes, it does, padawan," he said. "But you have to remember that hate is caused by fear -- fear that you can't measure up, fear that your religion is not getting the attention it deserves, fear that you won't be accepted by your people."

"Everyone has some of that, though," Obi-Wan said, sitting up.

"Yes," Qui-Gon answered. "And that is why there will never be peace. As long as one person lives in fear, there will be hate."

"Is what we do hopeless, then?" Obi-Wan asked.

"No," Qui-Gon said. "Sometimes the deeds of hate are what bring us to love, to see the beauty in the souls of others. My Obi-Wan, if it had not been for the feuding planet of Ken-obi, you and I would not be here today. Out of a deed that was meant for hate, you see, came love, shining glorious and perfect."

THE END