Disclaimer: Characters and situations property of LucasFilm, Jude Watson, etc. No monetary gain and no intent to steal.
Spoilers for the Jedi Apprentice series up to The Day of Reckoning.
A/N: This fic was inspired by Archaeologist's "Of Secrets and Padawans" and Athena Leigh's "My Weakness, My Strength."
Obi-Wan stirred on his sleep couch and stretched languidly, then yawned and rubbed his eyes. Qui-Gon had said that the next few days could be used for recuperation and socialization. Obi-Wan did wonder how his friends were faring. They'd finally returned from some easy assignments and it was promised they would have at least a week at the Temple. Obi-Wan suspected that the Council thought Qui-Gon should have something to do after the business with Xanatos, but nothing too strenuous emotionally. Just something to focus on to help him to manage whatever pain he might feel but also prevent it from overwhelming him. Obi-Wan knew that Qui-Gon did not hate Xanatos, but he felt Qui-Gon's familiar distance as he was sometimes swept up by brooding memories. He was not certain what to do. By this point, he knew Qui-Gon well enough to feel comfortable offering help. He also knew that if Qui-Gon wished for solitude, he would say so gently. He wondered about his friends, but he found that right at this moment, he cared more about Qui-Gon. He decided he would see if Qui-Gon needed him today and then figure out what to do. He sat up and glanced at his chrono. It was later than he usually got up, but not obscenely so.
Hello, Padawan. Rest well?
Obi-Wan smiled at the caring in the tone. Yes, Master. Thank you. I really needed it. And you?
I did. The tone was somber.
Obi-Wan frowned uneasily. Are...Are you all right? If you need to talk...He trailed off awkwardly.
I...I don't really know what to say. Now, his voice was definitely sad.
Obi-Wan nodded decisively and splashed water on his face, now fully awake. He wandered in search of his Master until he remembered that through their bond, he had discerned his Master was in his room. He stopped in the doorway and glanced at Qui-Gon, who was sprawled on his stomach on his couch. This must be bad indeed. Obi-Wan couldn't remember a time when he was actually up before his Master. He took a few steps inside, then hesitated, but Qui-Gon nodded, so he strode the rest of the way to Qui-Gon's couch and sat on the floor beside it, reaching out a hand to lay a brief touch to the back of one of Qui-Gon's hands.
Qui-Gon turned and smiled sadly, then propped himself on his elbows and rested his cheek against one hand, shifting to keep his apprentice in view. Obi-Wan noted that Qui-Gon had comfortable clothes, but not sleepwear, which meant he'd been up previously. Qui-Gon lifted a hand and covered a big yawn, but remained propped on his elbows.
"Still tired?" Obi-Wan asked gently. "I can go."
"Hmmm?" Qui-Gon murmured, slightly confused. "Oh. No, no. It's...um...comfortable here. I've been awake a while."
Obi-Wan nodded. "That's right. You greeted me when I woke."
Qui-Gon smiled again, this time kindly. "It's not often I get to sleep in."
"Ah. So you're the one who wanted the recuperation?" Obi-Wan teased.
Qui-Gon chuckled softly. "I'm old, you know. I'm entitled to want recuperation."
Obi-Wan laughed. "I wouldn't call you old. You still move with grace and power. I love to watch and learn, see you flow through your own maintenance routines with a lightsaber. It can be amazing to do the same things in tandem, but I haven't learned them all, unfortunately, so I can't move with you all the way."
"You will. I'll do my very best to make certain of it."
Obi-Wan knew it was a promise. "Would you like tea? Fruit? Maybe something more substantial, like a sandwich?"
Qui-Gon laughed. "Hungry again, are you?"
Obi-Wan flushed. "Master, that isn't fair. It's been a while since dinner." He couldn't hide the laughter in his voice, though.
Qui-Gon flashed a rare grin. "All of that sounds good, actually." He got to his feet and stretched. "I'll see you in the common room."
Obi-Wan jumped to his feet happily and followed Qui-Gon out, heading toward the kitchen and getting their meal together. They ate in companionable silence and Qui-Gon cleared up. Obi-Wan went over to the couch and dropped onto it, reclining against some pillows contentedly.
"So, any plans for your down time?" asked Qui-Gon, leaning back in an armchair facing his apprentice, his feet propped on a low table between them.
"Well..." Obi-Wan hesitated. "It depends."
"Oh?" Qui-Gon raised a quizzical eyebrow.
"Yeah. Do you have plans?"
Qui-Gon looked amused. "Well, Tahl's not here at the moment. I would go annoy Mace, but I think Council is meeting today. Though I think it's not over anything really troubling, so I imagine he'll be free after lunch, or during. I was thinking to eat in the cafeteria, and I could arrange to meet him there. So no plans until then, at least."
Obi-Wan nodded thoughtfully. "I wondered about Bant. I think Garen and Reeft aren't here. Maybe I could meet up with her when you're catching up with Mace."
"I don't see why not."
"It feels kind of odd, you know. Not training, I mean. I don't really know what to do with the time. But you said I should take time off, so I would feel bad training." Obi-Wan laughed. "This is pathetic."
Qui-Gon chuckled. "It was a recommendation, not a precise command. If you want to train, I mean really want to as opposed to just doing it to fill time, then do it. If it will bring you joy, then make yourself happy." He smiled. "I'm presuming you are referring to lightsaber training?"
"Um...Yes and no. Yes that lightsaber training brings me joy like few other things do. But no, I meant both the physical and mental aspects of the training. I enjoy meditation, too, as well as training in actual Force abilities. Though I will admit that I would like to take time off studying and homework."
Qui-Gon laughed appreciatively. "I do not blame you. Sitting for hours in front of a datapad is not my idea of fun on a day off, either."
"But in order to train, to learn something, I need you. And if we're not strictly working today, I can't impose."
"Don't be ridiculous. You can learn perfectly well without me. Or else how did you manage before you met me?"
Obi-Wan laughed. "That's not what I meant."
"As for training, you don't need me to go through standard exercises."
"No, but I don't think that's real training. It's more like maintenance of skills I already have."
Qui-Gon nodded. "That is a fair point." His tone was quiet, melancholy again. Obi-Wan ducked his head. He'd said something wrong, ruined their happiness. Qui-Gon sighed and was silent a long while. Obi-Wan knew he must be thinking of Xanatos. Finally, he refocused on Obi-Wan. "It is a joy to train you, but...I don't have the heart to do so today."
"I'm sorry, Master. I shouldn't have said anything."
Qui-Gon felt the boy's disappointment and sorrow keenly and hated himself, but he'd never lied to his Padawan before and wasn't going to start now. At any rate, he didn't deserve to be trained by someone who didn't want to give it their best. The truth was, he always did when they worked together and was careful not to tire the boy dangerously and to ensure his safety, while still pushing him hard enough to make it difficult. A challenge, but an attainable challenge for the boy's age and skill level - that was always his aim. Sometimes, he miscalculated, and had to tell the boy an exercise was too hard after all. Kenobi would be devastated and somehow feel he'd let him down. But such errors were few and far between, and usually, it was mutually satisfying when Obi-Wan learned a new lightsaber variation or honed a Force ability to Qui-Gon's high standard. He made sure his boy knew he'd done him proud, with glances and touches and their training bond, and it would make the boy's entire day. They were working on something now that the boy was very close to mastering. Perhaps he wanted to try, but until Qui-Gon was satisfied Obi-Wan could do something correctly, he didn't allow him to work on Force or lightsaber techniques without his supervision at least. Which is why they were in this situation. It was to ensure Kenobi's safety, of course, and Obi-Wan understood this, but he regretted it in this instance. He contemplated offering to be available while Obi-Wan worked on the exercise, but that was only a half-hearted solution. No, Obi-Wan deserved his full attention, even if it was just supervision. He glanced at Obi-Wan, whose eyes were darting toward his room, and realized he hadn't responded to the boy and Obi-Wan desperately wanted to get away but had not been dismissed. "Wait, Padawan."
Obi-Wan looked at Qui-Gon apprehensively.
Qui-Gon sighed. "It's not what you're probably thinking. I'm certain you don't believe what I just said, but would never outright accuse me of lying."
If possible, Obi-Wan's fear ratcheted up a notch.
Qui-Gon kicked himself mentally. He got up and sat beside Obi-Wan, pulling the boy against his chest. He sent gentle comfort down their bond and touched Obi-Wan's cheek tenderly. "I-I'm sorry, Padawan. I shouldn't have been so blunt. Listen...I need to...need to be around nature. I need a change of scenery. I'm out of sorts and when I'm this socially inept, it's probably not a good sign. Please come with me. I need to talk to you."
Obi-Wan reveled in the contact and was soothed. He turned and looked up at his Master. "Of course, Master. When you're in pain, so am I."
"Are you willing to take a hike in the mountains? I know a cave with beautiful stones, and a cool stream where we could have a picnic. Getting to the place is not easy, but it's also not terribly difficult for well-trained Jedi. The climb is steep, but the path is pretty flat. We do have to climb to the cave, but that, too, is not overly treacherous. Could always just use our cable launchers."
"So I get to exercise after all? Count me in." Obi-Wan grinned excitedly. "But what about your lunch plans?"
"They can wait until tomorrow if necessary. Who knows? Those might become breakfast plans."
"Ooooh. Maybe I should bring something to read. I know how I should dress. I'll go pack."
Qui-Gon nodded as they both prepared for their excursion.