Part 5

Two days passed and no further crisis arose to trouble the passengers of the Monument. The draigons kept their distance and by the third morning everyone was preparing to continue their journey to Bandomeer. An activity that was thanks entirely to the feverish work of the ship's crew and two obliging Jedi. Through their efforts the Monument was once again space worthy.

Well, as space worthy as it ever was at least.

Qui-Gon folded his arms, watching over the proceedings from a nearby hilltop as groups of Arconans rushed here and there. He was glad to note that none of them looked any the worse for their ordeal. When he had finally returned for the rest of the dactyl, nobody had protested, and now the entire colony was back to full health. His eyes shifted. Offworlders were down there too, willingly helping their former Arconan rivals. With the death of Jemba, Clat'Ha had cunningly brought out nearly all of the Offworld contracts. Those workers were now headed for fairer, freer lives, thanks in full to the bright, red-headed young woman.

Everyone was happy it seemed. Everyone, that is, but what of himself? Qui-Gon's thoughts turned inward. Since the battle he had meditated until his knees were raw, paced a trench into the ground and thrown himself into repair work, all in an attempt to re-find his centre. And still he was no closer to understanding what he should do when it came to a certain Obi-Wan Kenobi. Qui-Gon sighed. At least his efforts had brought him some measure of clarity. Something he definitely hadn't had two days ago.

Sharp blue eyes sought out the now familiar form of the boy. He was down among the workers, laughing with Si Treemba as he leant the young Arconan a hand in packing his belongings back aboard the ship. As Qui-Gon watched a rare shaft of sun broke through the clouds. The light hit the boy, catching Obi-Wan's hair and setting the dark auburn hue alive with flames of red. The pale skin glowed for the first time in days, seeming to finally reflect the light within. If nothing else, that was one thing Qui-Gon could see clearly now. What Yoda had seen from the start. Obi-Wan Kenobi was a true light in the Force. Thoughtful, selfless and brave - complete with a twist of wry humour that surfaced at moments to tug a smile even from his lips.

He couldn't deny it. He had grown to care deeply for the boy. More than he had ever thought possible. Obi-Wan had saved his life-twice-and one couldn't walk away with that knowledge and not feel something. And he did. It was there, straining to exist beneath the murk as it was. But again, did he want that connection after everything he'd said and done? Even two days ago he would have openly rebelled against the idea. Now...

Now things had changed. He found himself wanting to live again. And Obi-Wan was the one that had made it so. In little under a week since the boy had been thrust into his life, Obi-Wan had driven him to the very limits of his tolerance, twisting the thorn of his past ever deeper into his side. He had upset him, confused him, angered him and in the end... had wrenched him back to face the light. Qui-Gon shook his head. At times he couldn't believe it. But there it was. His gaze softened. That boy was no farmer. There stood a Jedi if ever he had seen one. And despite the rocky ups and downs of their relationship thus far he had become, in some strange way, accustomed to having the boy around. And that was the part of him that was ready to cast aside doubt, to go down to the ship and accept Obi-Wan into his life once and for all. As his Padawan Learner. Maybe it wasthe will of the Force.

Yet still he held back. Was this tentative step he had taken enough? It was not just a question of wanting. Could he give the boy everything he needed from a Master? His time, his affection… his trust. Ah, yes, the most difficult of all. Trust. He did not know. And that was what kept him firmly rooted to the spot. He already had enough of a bond with Obi-Wan. If he completed it and then found he could never give all of himself to the relationship, he would end up damaging the boy far more than he would if he pulled away now. The boy was better off becoming a farmer than coming to that fate. It would be his downfall and Qui-Gon couldn't - wouldn't - do that to him—

"Master Jinn." Obi-Wan's clear voice broke into his musings. "Master Jinn," the boy was coming up the hill towards him. He was slightly hesitant as if afraid to intrude upon the Master's solitude. "The ship's ready to leave, Master. I… thought you might like to know."

Qui-Gon graced him with a gentle smile. "Thank-you, Obi-Wan," he said simply. "I'll be along in a minute."

The boy nodded. He looked quizzically at Qui-Gon for a moment longer before turning and walking away back towards the ship. Qui-Gon watched him go, eyes knowing. He could sense Obi-Wan's confusion; it roiled just beneath the surface. The boy couldn't understand why Qui-Gon was still hesitating and at times Qui-Gon could see the impatience lurking behind those blue-green eyes. The boy, like Yoda, seemed certain that they were meant to be and that Qui-Gon was now just being a stubborn old gundark. Qui-Gon's lips twitched. Maybe he was. But with good reason and the boy would just have to be patient with him. The legacy of Xanatos had not yet left him. He had to accept that if he were to heal. He could hide from it no longer. This mission had placed his feet on the road to recovery. But if that recovery would come in time to save Obi-Wan, he could not say. Only time would tell. Not the answer either of them would be happy with, but it was the right one. He, like the boy, would just have to wait.

Until then he would keep an eye on Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Decided and feeling slightly more at peace, Qui-Gon gathered his cloak close about him and started down the hill after Obi-Wan. In moments he had caught up to the boy. Uncertain eyes flashed up at him and Qui-Gon caught them. Speaking no words he laid a reassuring hand upon the young shoulder and pressed ever so slightly.

A quick flicker of hope cut through the murk of uncertainty and Obi-Wan smiled.

Together they walked onto the ship.

Bandomeer was beckoning…

(*)*(*)*(*)

Have a little patience,

Just have a little patience,

Cause I, I just need time,

My heart is numb, has no feeling,

So while I'm still healing, just try, and have a little patience.

I just need time

My heart is numb, has no feeling,

So while I'm still healing, just try, and have a little…

Patience.

Fin