Qui-Gon Jinn was walking to the Council Chambers with a slight bounce to his walk, and he was humming.
Now, everybody knew Master Jinn, and nobody, that is nobody had ever heard him humming to himself quietly and striding with a bounce.
The Jedi Master was usually the most reserved and introverted of all Jedi.
When he entered the Council and bowed, they all noticed it. Of course he did not hum when facing the Council, but his movements were different. It was more than mere grace; the large Jedi's movements were always graceful, but now he held a vitality that had been gone from the Jedi Master for many years.
He noticed that they regarded him strangely, but said nothing.
"My Masters, of what news do you summon me?"
Yoda straightened in his seat, replacing the inquiring look for one of purpose,
"A request, we have of you."
Qui-Gon remained respectfully silent, waiting for the small Jedi Master to continue. Master Mace Windu spoke instead,
"As you well know, there is the tournament next month- the Padawan tournament."
Qui-Gon addressed his old friend,
"I was unaware of the tournament's date."
The Jedi Masters gave the air of sighing, though they did not physically do so; it was no surprise to any of them that the isolated and antisocial Jedi was out-of-touch.
"Need you at the Padawan tournament, we do." Yoda said, then Master C'bouth continued,
"I leave soon urgently to the Senate," He explained, "I indeed promised the Masters that I would attend to the Padawan tournament- as one the Jedi of Honor- but alas…" He trailed off.
"You wish me to go?" Qui-Gon inquired, raising a brow. He wasn't good with children and teenagers. Frankly, he wasn't even very good with adults- not when it came to the personal level, at least.
No one was allowed inside the fortress of sadness and regret he had built. No one.
"It would hurt the Padawans if one of the chairs was empty, and since you have just recently returned from Alborier, we thought this might lift your spirits." Then he smirked and added, "Though they seem lifted enough. Care to share with the Council the reason for this pleasing change?"
Qui-Gon flustered a short moment. He wasn't aware that it was that evident.
"In private," he nodded to Master Windu, "If it pleases you."
He agreed to come to the tournament, though he refused to be the one to carry a speech of any type.
After the meeting, he and Mace walked calmly through the Temple's halls.
"I've had the strangest dream." He told his friend.
Master Windu frowned at this,
"Not exactly," He shook his head, brow furrowing, "I think I was awake. I felt a presence. A Force signature of a powerful Jedi."
Mace watched his friend's profile, intrigued, what could the Jedi Master have felt that would make him so uncharacteristically… jolly? Qui-Gon continued, his eyes looking far within himself as he walked,
"A young Jedi, for sure, but wise beyond his years. The connection was direct, and no shield stopped it." He paused, "No words were exchanged; it wasn't a verbal connection even when I tried. It was direct emotional contact."
"Are you sure?" Mace asked. Such connections were rare at best, and usually signaled something of great importance.
"Yes…" Qui-Gon mused out loud, "There was pain there, as well as anger and frustration, and the need to be loved was nearly overwhelming. I also found happiness there; confidence, unconditional love and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. There was also this tune in his head, and I can't take it out of mine…"
"Such powerful emotions…" Master Windu mumbled, mind racing to find how and who this could be.
Master Jinn nodded,
"It was like a part of me that I searched for, but never known I had lost." Then he shook his head and continued, "He shared those positive emotions freely- no- he gave them to me freely. He let me look inside his soul, and showered me with those emotions. Since then… they have stuck with me. I can't shake them, nor can I shake the feelings I have discovered inside him. I tried to counter the negative feelings in him… or her…" It suddenly occurred to him that that Jedi might have been a female. He continued, "…With positive feelings; calm and peace."
"Well done." Then he could not contain his curiosity and asked, "Did you get a name?"
Qui-Gon's shoulders sagged slightly,
"Not anything I can work with to find this person." He said, "When I tried to verbalize the connection and asked 'who are you?' I was met with a strange reply."
Mace stopped and waited for the answer. Qui-Gon stopped as well and looked at his friend,
"One." He said.
"One?" Mace echoed, not understanding.
"One." Qui-Gon repeated.
Both were silent a long moment, then Master Windu suggested,
"You should tell this to Master Yoda; surely, he would know what it meant."
As Qui-Gon exited Master Yoda's private meditation room, he nearly walked into a young Padawan, standing near the entrance.
Their eyes met for a brief moment, then the Padawan looked away and humbly stepped out of the Jedi Master's way. It was what Padawan's were supposed to do when faced with a Jedi Knight, but somehow it didn't seem entirely right. It made Qui-Gon feel as if he had forgotten something when he left. He saw that Padawan around didn't he? He seemed awfully familiar…
Qui-Gon continued down the corridor, bent on trying to see new things through Yoda's wisdom.
"Padawan Kenobi." The small Master beckoned the boy into the meditation chamber.
"Master Yoda." He greeted him with a full bow and then lowered himself to his knees. Padawan Kenobi had the pleasure of having Master Yoda teach him several classes throughout the years, and although Kenobi knew the small Jedi all his life, this was the first time he was talking to him in private. It made the young boy quite nervous.
"What guidance seek you, young Kenobi?" the rough voice asked gently, gimmer stick tapping softly as he strode back and fro in front of the kneeling Padawan.
"Master Vuret-Lee thinks I am gravely ill, Master." He replied. His voice was pleasantly accented. It sounded more like he was saying 'Mostah', rather than 'Master'.
"Are you?" Yoda didn't stop his striding back and forth.
"Then why thinks she this?"
The young Jedi squirmed,
"Because I've been paying attention in class and improving greatly with the Lightsaber." He seemed embarrassed.
"Thinks you ill for this, does she? Thinks I could cure you where the healers failed, yes?" Master Yoda didn't seem to understand why she had sent the boy to him. He was a busy person, everybody knew, and her distress sounded more severe on the holophone than the young Padawan was revealing.
"It's not just that, Master Yoda." The boy confessed, "She thinks I'm depressed."
"No." Here he hesitated, "But I had the strangest dream, Master, and since then I can't take it out of my mind."
"A vision, you had, yes?"
Here the young Jedi shook his head,
"I don't think so, Master, it's not like what you taught us." He hesitated again, looking at the palms in his lap with shame and embarrassment, "More like a connection… With someone…" He felt silly saying this, fearing others might think him insane.
Master Yoda stopped his striding and gave the young Padawan a piercing look.
"Tell me." He encouraged, suspicion rising in his heart faster than one could light a Lightsaber. Young Kenobi was fingering the hem of his tunic, clearly embarrassed,
"Well… It was late at night and I couldn't sleep. At first it felt like something inside of my mind was melting… Like metal melts in heat." He tried not to sound as awkward as he felt, "Then I felt like I was going to drown in something very sad. It was like I was looking into someone else's brain, and he had, like, a ton of regrets and a pile of sorrows."
Yoda listened carefully,
"Continue." He urged the young boy, no more than fifteen, on.
"All I wanted was to help whoever it was, so I threw all the positive feelings I had at him, because… because…"
"It was like a part of you that you searched for, but never known you had lost, yes?" The Master's round eyes narrowed at the now surprised boy.
"Exactly!" Kenobi exclaimed, "Since then I find that I don't turn to anger as often, and that I generally feel more… peaceful." He felt silly, and the poor tunic hem had to suffer for it, "Maybe I'm going nuts or something. What do you think of this, Mast…er…Yo…da?"
He had never seen the tiny Master smile so widely. It was one of the scariest visions he had seen in his life. It was down right spooky.
After a moment, the smile turned to something more normal, and the small Jedi began pacing again. He asked in a self-content voice,
"A name, did you receive?"
"No." Again the young boy shook his head, every part of him aching to know why Master Yoda had smirked at him like that, "Not really- when I asked 'who are you?' I just got one word."
"Huh? No. 'Gone'."
"Gone?" Yoda echoed.
"Gone." Kenobi repeated.
Now Yoda was down right chuckling to himself. He said,
"This mystery, time will solve." He stepped up to the bewildered Padawan and placed a three-fingered hand on the boy's arm, "Trust the Force you must- lead you to your future this will." Then he said what he had told the man who had left moments before Kenobi entered, "Trust this bond and the Force, in the meanwhile you should. Complete with your positive emotion that which the other side has not."
Padawan Kenobi left the chamber more confused than he had entered. Most of his thoughts returned to the spine-chilling smile. It looked as though the small Jedi was about to burst with merry laughter, or maybe thrust his gimmer stick at someone and yell 'Told you so!'
"Told you so, I did!" Yoda lowered his stick, self-satisfaction clear on the wrinkled face, "Together, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon should be. Master and Apprentice."
Mace looked doubtful, but Yoda ignored him.
"Interfere we must not." Yoda continued, pacing the room with his stick, "But encourage them to meet, we should. Encourage them to understand who the other is, we should."
The strange occurrences became more frequent. But both grew accustomed to the sensations. The passing of emotions was more open, more confidant.
To delve into someone else's mind was a tricky business, for hurting the other soul was all too simple. With every ache and pain visible, it was considered very hard to sidestep those places where the other wished privacy. It was also considered bad because it made you doubt yourself; 'Would the other person like what he would see? Maybe after seeing the real me, he\she would hate me?'
It made one want to be someone one was not, and a generally unadvised practice unless the two were experienced Jedi Masters.
But this was different. The other soul could skip easily over any psychological defense; see into every part of the other's soul. And if it so happened that one passed over some painful memory or emotion, it did not aggravate it. On the contrary, the passing of the other soul made the wound diminish, and soothed the area around it.
As time passed, and days turned into weeks of this, the two connected almost nightly, and sometimes could feel each other's presence even during the day. It became something to look forward to, and the two relished in the feeling that there was someone out there that perhaps understood them, or at least liked them for who they really were. Not a lot of people could say that, and these two realized how lucky they were.
Master Jinn spent many hours in meditation, trying to find the source of this feeling, the person behind it. He came up with nothing. Still, his days passed with some sort of cheerfulness to them, a purpose. He treated the people around him with a smile, instead of a frown, and enjoyed every moment of it. He wanted to show these feelings of content to the Other One, wanted to help quell the frustration he found there with the new peacefulness he had achieved.
Padawan Kenobi delighted his teachers; they had never dreamt of a way to make Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the most promising, as well as frustrating students at the Temple, actually work on his studies. Now he was all but the same quick to anger young boy had been; now he had purpose. He wanted to shower the Other One with the pride he felt at succeeding with a practice, wanted to counter the regret with it. He found that through his studies he gained strength and gained focus. Maybe if he learned enough, he could manage to find out who the Other One was.
Since that time outside of Yoda's room, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon had not met. Yoda decided to help the Force coax these two together.
One evening, at dinner, Yoda found the perfect chance. Young Kenobi was sitting alone in one far table of the dining hall. He had few, if no, friends, and reminded Yoda painfully of Qui-Gon at his age.
Just then the large Jedi approached the small one, tray in hand,
"May I seat myself by your side?" Qui-Gon asked politely, setting his tray near Yoda's. He received a whap to the shin with a gimmer stick.
"No." Yoda scoffed at the surprised Jedi who was holding his shin, "Sit there, you should, yes." He pointed to the lone Padawan.
"But…" Qui-Gon blinked at the petit Master, genuinely confused. Yoda raised his gimmer stick again, but Qui-Gon was wise enough to grab his tray and scuttle away hurriedly. Yoda grinned and watched the two.
"May I seat myself here?" The large Jedi asked, smiling briefly. The Padawan nodded, and proceeded to grab his tray and turn to leave. Qui-Gon looked at him, and then asked, "Have I offended you?"
Kenobi shook his head,
"No, Master Jedi, but I thought a Master wouldn't want to be seen sitting by a Padawan."
"I'll have none of that, now." He said, starting to eat calmly.
…Now where had he seen this Master before? He seemed terribly familiar…
They sat by each other in the empty table, each silently going through his meal.
At long last, when Master Yoda thought he would burst from anticipation, Master Jinn turned his head and studied the Padawan thoughtfully.
That's it. He recognized him. Master Yoda was pleased.
"Pass me the salt, please?"
The Padawan complied and they resumed eating.
A few days later the Padawan tournament was held.
This was an event that all Padawans waited for eagerly every four years; many Jedi were there to watch the youngsters, from Knights to Masters, and more often than not, many Padawans were taken in as apprentices thanks to their demonstration of skill.
Qui-Gon was pleased enough. He feared in the back of his mind that this was just another elaborate rouge to persuade him to take a Padawan. He had never taken one, as he considered it too much of a hassle, not to mention his own introverted nature. He did not wish for the possible hurt that could rise from opening his mind to someone else, let alone some kid.
The Other One had to be another Jedi Master, as it was unlikely that any Padawan could ever do something like this.
The children competed in a friendly fashion over several titles: From Leading Levitationist to Leading Saberman.
One boy struck him as especially talented. It would seem that not only was he strong with the Force; his mind was calmer than any teenager Qui-Gon had seen.
…Did had he seen that Padawan before? He looked vaguely familiar.
The Padawan, 'Kenobi' apparently, competed in two events; stealth and the Lightsaber. Though it seemed that the boy's talent lay with the Lightsaber, few Jedi pupils were so able at the sneaking arts. It took a calm mind and a confidence few teenagers possessed.
While the boy sat at the side benches, waiting for his fellow competitors to finish their tests, Qui-Gon tried to peek into that his mind to see what gave him so much calm and confidence.
He was met with one of the strongest shields he had ever seen on anyone, save himself. The Padawan's eyes darted up, and he looked directly at Qui-Gon.
There was a brief flash of recognition from both of them; that's the one that sat beside me that dinner.
And Yoda gritted his teeth with agitation, again deciding to take matters into his own hands.
Just before the tournament ended, and a Jedi Master would hand the small braid prize beads to the winners, Mace broke the terrible news to Qui-Gon. More correctly, he signaled Qui-Gon frantically, indicating his throat and then passing his hand in front of it in a horizontal motion.
"You lost your voice?!" Qui-Gon looked worried. That could mean only one thing, "You… want me to do the finishing speech, don't you?"
Mace nodded, holding his hands up in a pleading gesture.
"No." Qui-Gon shook his head, "I don't know what to say. I wouldn't know how to start. I would make a fool of myself and disappoint the Padawans."
Master Windu handed the Jedi a bunch of papers titled 'The Speech'.
Qui-Gon had no more excuses left, and he turned dejectedly to the balcony where he sat, trying to prepare himself.
Master Jinn wasn't afraid of sharp teeth that belonged to terrible monsters, he wasn't afraid of evil men with large blasters.
He was afraid of people.
They had hurt him so many times. Times he deserved it and times he did everything in his power not to be hurt. They always ended adding a block to the already high tower of his isolation and detachment.
He could deal the negotiations. That wasn't hard; he just had to make sure that both sides treated the other fairly, and that no prejudice was let to cloud judgment.
Speaking in front of a hundred Jedi of various ages was tough.
The Padawans that participated aligned on the main stage; facing the balcony Qui-Gon sat on, high above.
They looked at each other, smiles and whispers of anticipation passing between them as they waited for the speech.
The paper rustled slightly in Qui-Gon's trembling hand. He forced himself to calm down and stand up.
From the crowds below, more than two hundred pairs of eyes trained on him. Although there were no more than a hundred Jedi in the hall, one must not forget that not all Jedi had only two eyes…
He cleared his throat dryly as murmurs passed the hall:
Qui-Gon Jinn is speaking?!
He felt ridiculous, and very un-Jedi-like. He refused to recite from the papers like a parakeet, so he cleared his throat again. Nothing came to his mind, until he met the gaze of that one boy. He was looking at him intently. No scorn of amusement was there at the big Jedi's obvious discomfort. It would be cruel of Qui-Gon to ruin this day for the Padawans…
"I remember when I was on the stage." He started, letting the Force guide his words, and not his anxiety. Behind him, Mace gasped, realizing that Master Jinn had forsaken the pre-made speech. Qui-Gon looked around, and was surprised at the stable voice that he himself produced, "I stood there time after time, trying to be the best, trying to find a Jedi Master to guide me." He gestured to the crowd, "Today we stand here again, having four years passed, and new young Jedi prove to us that our work is far from finished." He paused, then looked back to the Padawans, "It is a blaster world out there, young ones." He said, "People shooting from one place to another, aimless, wild and burning with emotions. But we Jedi need to be like the Lightsabers we wield; focused, sharp and always ready."
He felt that was enough, and a lot more than he had expected his throat to produce. Thank the Force…
He fumbled a moment with the papers, dropping some them in the process. After a few moments he produced the right page and started reading from it.
"Leading Mentalist: Ibram Si-Roo." The mentioned boy stepped forward, horns gleaming with pride as they gave him the blue braid bead of the Mentalists.
"Leading Levitationist: Fo-rr El." A slim human girl stepped forward, accepting the light purple braid bead of a Levitationist.
Those beads were meant, were the Padawan to wish it, to be put at the ends of their braids once they had a Master. It took many years to grow a Padawan braid, as it took many years to grow a fine bond between the apprentice and the Master.
"Leading Stealth: Obi-Wan Kenobi." The boy who had caught his eye earlier stepped forward, accepting the bead with the widest smile the Jedi Master had seen in a while. It was impish and childish and shy. Qui-Gon couldn't help but smile lightly.
"Leading Saberman:" …Well, what do you know? "Obi-Wan Kenobi."
The boy stepped back up again, that smile shining at its brightest; this was the bead he had craved for the most. The crowd murmured. So many rare things happening in the same day! First, Master Jinn speaks publicly, and then a very young Padawan earns two beads!
The ending celebrations started immediately after, with many Masters coming to talk to the young Padawans. Certainly several apprenticeships would start today, the Jedi Master thought, plopping back down to his balcony chair with a heave of relief.
"That went much better than I could dream of, Qui-Gon." Mace approached his friend, voice perfectly fine. Qui-Gon actually reddened, though Mace couldn't say if it was with anger or embarrassment. Maybe both. The large Jedi placed a hand on his forehead, eyes closed in an attempt to control his agitation.
"You will pay for this." He mumbled.
"Now, now, revenge is hardly fitting for a Jedi." Mace smiled awkwardly, proud of his friend yet fearing his wrath. "It was Yoda's idea!"
Qui-Gon let go of Mace's collar and lowered his fist. After straightening his tunic he turned to the celebrating people on the stage. The crowd was allowed on the stage, and it was full with people and mirth. Qui-Gon's eyes quickly scanned them over, searching for that smile. He did not find the boy.
"Where's the boy with the two beads?" He asked Mace.
In the showers, Obi-Wan was just adjusting his work tunic when three Masters entered. He quickly regretted switching from the formal tunic. These three Masters were among the most respected in all the Jedi order! He relaxed when he figured they were not here for him. They talked amongst themselves. Probably just wanted a nice place to talk in. Really, Kenobi, he chided himself, what are the chances that Masters Mace Windu, Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda would come all the way to the Padawan showers to talk to you?
"Young Kenobi, if you please?" Obi-Wan thought he was going to have a heart attack there and then.
"Speak to him, you should." Yoda nudged Qui-Gon's foot as they tried to get out of the tiny Master why had he insisted on coming all the way down right now.
"Me?" The large Jedi looked miserable, "I've nothing to say to him."
"Two beads he has won." Yoda said, eyeing Qui-Gon meaningfully, "No one has done that since you, yes?"
Qui-Gon shrugged, and Mace turned to the boy, who was trying very hard to disappear into the corner with his bag of clothes.
"Young Kenobi, if you please?"
"Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, meet Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi." Yoda smirked, looking at them as their eyes met. Qui-Gon tilted his head with respect, and Obi-Wan bowed fully.
"You have done well." Qui-Gon said, "I was most impressed with your skills. Few so young fight so well. Who was your teacher?"
The Padawan blushed to his ears, looking downward humbly.
"But Master's Sinke's style is nothing of the sort!" The Jedi Master exclaimed. Obi-Wan nodded,
"I've been spending my resting days in the training center," He explained, fingering the hem of his tunic again, "Against battle droids."
"Ah," Qui-Gon seemed pleased, "That's why you used Diki's Defense in that last duel- it is much more effective against a defensive opponent. I would recommend, when fighting against more aggressive opponents, that you should use Gueria's Defense."
The Padawan shook his head,
"But it's counter intuitive!"
Now it was the Jedi Master's turn to shake his head,
"Only at the beginning. When you get used to the swings of it, it surpasses Diki's defense in both efficiency and energy preservation."
"I must disagree, Jedi Master Jinn…" The boy insisted, trying to prove his point and still be respectful while gaining some confidence.
Master Yoda's patience with these two dense Jedi was playing on his nerves. They still did not recognize each other's Force signatures!
"Diki's Defense is superior when fighting multiple opponents, regardless of their offensiveness- Ouch!"
"Master Yoda! Why did you hit him wi- Ow!"
The small Master hobbled from the room, face scrunched in agitation. He left three confused Jedi, two of which were on one leg, holding their shins and blinking away the pain.
Mace was just as confused as they were,
"…Maybe he prefers Hitori's Defense…?"
Days ticked by, and the two grew more healthy and happy with the Other One at their side. Still, they longed to see each other face to face, to find that wonderful other person. They felt complete when the bond was open, but sometimes it just wasn't enough. They wanted to talk, not only feel, wanted to share thoughts, not only feelings.
But try as they might, they could not reach the understanding of who the other was. And it wasn't as though Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan had not met in the halls many times since the tournament, they had, but they passed each other without the slightest notice, each busy with his own things and thoughts.
The great Master Yoda had attempted some other ways of bringing the two to talk, but it usually ended up somewhere between Diki's Defense and Yoda's gimmer stick in their shins.
One extremely stormy day Obi-Wan hurried to class. He jumped on the nearest repulso-lift and pressed the tenth floor. He noticed Master Qui-Gon hurrying for a lift as well, and he held out his hand to keep the door from swooshing closed and allowed the Jedi in.
The lift started up in silence. The two had nothing to say to each other; Obi-Wan wouldn't dare say anything to a Jedi Master of Qui-Gon's stature, and Qui-Gon had too much on his mind to even fully register who was in the lift with him after his brisk 'thank you'.
There was a jolt, a terrible thunder, and then the elevator trembled to a stop with a complete lights-out.
Having no electricity to power the repulsor, the lift plummeted.
For long moments there was only the sounds of the lift's sides scraping the tube painfully. The floor rocked, but that was okay since they were hardly touching it. Obi-Wan had felt negative G's before, but this was taking them to their doom. It took several long moments of panic until the emergency generator kicked in, and the elevator jolted to an abrupt halt.
The two Jedi crashed to the floor.
A dim blue light illuminated the small confinement, giving just enough light to see each other's silhouettes and the gleam of the eyes. Not a lot more.
It is an unspoken tradition that the emergency light in an elevator would be red, but the Jedi had their reasons to avoid the color.
Master Jinn was up on his feet in an instant, hand near his Lightsaber, just in case.
He felt nothing wrong with the Force. It has been a lightning strike too close to the Temple, he gathered, probably short-circuited the system. At his feet, Obi-Wan groaned. He bent quickly to his side, helping him up.
"Ouch!" The Padawan grabbed his ankle, dropping to a sitting position on the floor and biting his lip. He didn't mean to cry out, not in front of a Master. Qui-Gon bent to examine the swelling right ankle.
"J… Just a sprain." The boy chocked out, obviously fighting the pain. Qui-Gon shook his head gravely,
"A fracture. I fear it is broken, young one."
Obi-Wan frowned, looking angry with himself and his ankle.
"Nothing the Healers won't be able to fix." The Jedi Master assured, retuning to his feet. He looked out from the glass. It was a terrible storm out there. He could see it clearly through the trans-steel of the elevator. Squinting, he tried to see through the window, over the ceiling of the lift. He saw darkness. The entire Temple was running on emergency power.
"I'm sure we'll be out of here soon enough."
It was three and a half hours later, and the lift was suffocating and hot. Qui-Gon was sitting dejectedly by Obi-Wan's side. They had not said anything for the last two hours and a half, when Obi-Wan had said, "You should sit, Master Jinn, we're going to be here a long time." And Qui-Gon said, "Nonsense. They know we're in here, they'll be quick.".
Qui-Gon had tried everything, from contacting Yoda through the Force to trying to pry the door open. Nothing helped, they were stuck. The thunders outside did little to calm them.
Obi-Wan heaved a heavy breath, then asked,
"How long can the emergency generator hold the lift?"
Qui-Gon had his eyes closed in light meditation, back leaning on the wall near Obi-Wan.
"Approximately three hours. The rescue teams should come before that."
Obi-Wan lifted his head from the wall, blinking at Qui-Gon.
"But we've been here for three and a ha-"
The lift rocked slightly. As if on queue, the emergency light started flickering.
Slowly but surely, they felt their bodies becoming lighter.
They were starting downwards again.
Qui-Gon knew they had very little time, so he grabbed Obi-Wan's Lightsaber before the other could protest and drew his own. He then stabbed the walls viciously. One Lightsaber at each opposite wall. All the way to the hilt. The entire lift screamed with friction, but came to a halt again before it could gain much speed.
Obi-Wan exhaled with relief.
"Thank you, Master Jedi Jinn." He said respectfully, smiling that radiant smile at the tall Jedi. Qui-Gon felt uncomfortable with all that smile's happiness aimed at him, and he quickly reached up and unscrewed the annoying flickering blue light. At least his blush didn't show with it off.
Soon their eyes adjusted to the dim, gray light that came through the window. The storm was still raging outside, and they heard it whistle through the Lightsaber holes Qui-Gon had carved. They could feel its strength rattling the lift gently, like a very low base would shake one's stomach. The thunders were sometimes deafening.
"It's been too long." Obi-Wan breathed, "What's keeping them?"
"Maybe someone's in a more dire situation than ours." Qui-Gon replied, trying to discern with the Force the panic and apprehension of the younger students from those who might be in real distress. It all jumbled together to one mesh of discomfort, and he let it go.
Another half hour passed in silence before Obi-Wan couldn't take it anymore and started to hum. It took his mind off the situation and the pain. After several notes, Qui-Gon joined the humming, and the two serenaded gently until the song was through. It turned out very pleasant, they had to agree; Obi-Wan's young tenor with Qui-Gon's calm baritone. And if they had gotten a few notes skewed, who was the wiser? It was just the two of them, and the sounds of the vicious storm and the small lift were getting on their Jedi nerves as it were.
The song ended with a smile on both their faces. Obi-Wan said,
"I never met anyone who knew this song before." He looked away bashfully, "I think my mother used to hum it to me, but I don't really remember."
Qui-Gon tried to remember where he had heard it, and realized it was the song the Other One had given him. He smiled back at Obi-Wan in the dim light,
"I've heard it at least once before." He said. It would be interesting to see from where the Other One had known this song. "Where are you from?"
"So that's your accent…" The Jedi Master mumbled with a wider smile, he loved that accent. Obi-Wan nodded,
"I get picked on a lot because of it." There was little resentment in his words, more sadness than anything else.
"Don't your friends help against the bullies?" Qui-Gon made himself comfortable on the floor.
"I don't have many of those," the boy said sincerely, "most of the people I know are those who pick on me. But I'm not complaining!" He was quick to add, hiding his sorrow behind a tight grin, "I have one friend that's almost always with me."
"Pardon? He's gone?"
The Padawan chuckled, real humor in his eyes again, "No," He said, "His name is Gone." He then blinked and added, "I think."
"You don't know the name of your own friend?" Qui-Gon seemed amused as well. When the boy smiled with real happiness behind it, it was almost impossible to resist catching some of it, Qui-Gon noticed.
Obi-Wan blushed deeply, fumbling with his tunic as he often did,
"It's a long story," He tried to evade the subject, "It doesn't matter."
The Jedi Master saw no reason to push the subject further, and so he settled himself back into silence.
He intended to speak, but thunder swallowed the first part of his words,
"---Wan, how's your leg?"
"Pardon?" Obi-Wan snapped from his thoughts, "One what?"
"I just asked how is your leg? Does it hurt much?"
"No." the boy shook his head fiercely, making it evident to Qui-Gon that it indeed hurt, and that he was trying to convince himself, not Qui-Gon. "Sorry, I just thought you said 'one', not Wan…" He flinched slightly. After all, he was speaking to a Jedi Master, and he was just a lowly Padawan.
Qui-Gon's smile widened,
"It's okay." He said, "I felt the same when you mentioned Gone."
Each of them turned away.
It hit them both just as thunder rolled. Or maybe it wasn't thunder; maybe the realization was what had caused such a large bang. That was how they felt, anyway.
They slowly turned back to each other, eyes locking with emotion and something near fear in both of the pairs.
"…Obi… One Kenobi…" Qui-Gon mumbled, all too shocked.
"…Qui… Gone Jinn…" Obi-Wan mumbled, certain that he was going to be kicked out of the Temple.
They stared at each other for long moments, neither knowing what to say. It fit. There was no way to ignore it, the Force signature fit. Still, each of them still had the fear that the other wasn't the Other One, and asking 'was it you in my mind?' was damn strange, even for Jedi.
Seconds stretched into minutes, and the minutes carried on, bringing more from where they came from.
"…You…" Qui-Gon swallowed hard, shaking his head to clear his thoughts, "You're… You…" It wasn't working, and the Padawan was looking at him with fear and dread written all over his face.
He was inside a Jedi Master's mind… He shared his most pathetic prides and giddiness with one of the top most Jedi Master's in the whole Jedi Order. But the Master was so sad… So alone! He would have done it again, if he saw him so sad! Thinking about it a short moment, he decided that even if he was to get punished for this, he would do what he thought was right to the end. While the Jedi Master's face struggled between agitation and astonishment, Obi-Wan took down his shields, tore them to the ground and opened his mind to the Force.
"…It was me." He spoke defiantly to the place in his mind that connected to the Other One.
Qui-Gon drew back slightly, surprise winning on his face. The voice came to his mind without passing through his ears, or through Obi-Wan's vocal cords, for that matter.
It wasn't possible. It just wasn't. A fifteen-year-old Padawan, no matter how talented, couldn't have opened such a bond with him. Not the kind that ignored all shields. It just wasn't possible.
He felt the boy's Force around him. There wasn't any mistake, the boy was the one.
But how could this boy…
Who said it was the boy who had opened the bond? In his depression and yearning for companionship, it could have been Qui-Gon himself that opened the path between himself and some random person in the Temple.
But earlier, when Qui-Gon had tried to see what made the boy so peaceful, he felt a shield of the sort he couldn't ignore, were he to open a connection with this boy.
And if it wasn't either…
The Force itself was trying to tell them something.
His musing stopped abruptly when he noticed that the boy was crying into his palms. He must have stared at the boy for a couple of minutes straight, and the boy was scared of Qui-Gon's reaction to begin with.
"I'm sorry!" Obi-Wan sobbed into his hands, "I'm sorry! But you were so sad! I didn't mean to pry! I didn't! I'm sorry! I just wanted to help! And you helped me so much…!" His crying intensified, and Qui-Gon found himself immobilized with the emotions that flowed through the unshielded boy into the Force. "Without you I would have never won the tournament the way I did…! I'm sorry! I'm-"
Qui-Gon was no less surprised than Obi-Wan when the he wrapped his arms around the boy. After a few heartbeats, he smiled.
It was the boy. He was the Other One. No doubt. That need for love, that courage.
It was him.
It didn't matter to the Jedi Master that the Other One was a young boy. For one whose shin had tasted many a gimmer stick, size wasn't what you looked at.
"You've nothing to be sorry about, young Kenobi." He whispered into the boy's dark ginger colored hair, holding the trembling body close to him, basking in the wonders of the boy's emotional Force, "You've done nothing wrong. You have no idea how much you helped this old man…"
"You're not that old…" Obi-Wan half chuckled, half sobbed, grabbing Qui-Gon's tunic. The big man's awkward hug moved the deepest parts in him. The part of him that longed for guidance and love clung to Qui-Gon for dear life. He knew that it was this Jedi Master who had helped with his anger and frustration, he just knew it.
An anxious party stood by the elevator doors on the first floor. Yoda, tapping his cane as he strode the width of the corridor and Mace, feeling wracked with guilt- it was his decision that the people trapped in the elevator could wait in favor of rescuing the children from the burning crèche, where the lightning had struck. It set a chain reaction that short-circuited the entire Temple, and it also caused the room to start burning.
Then the people in the elevator had to shift down priorities again since it has been almost three hours since the emergency generator started, and there was still no external power. The sick in the bacta tanks and life support units had to be safely evacuated to the nearest hospital, where there was electricity. So it has been almost five hours, long past the lift's repulsor's capability. The maintenance crew only recently finished working on the power generator, which was toast, and now labored to pull the fallen lift up.
It had gone down from the base level, well into the basement levels, where it had most probably crashed into tiny pieces.
The pain in the Jedi Master's eyes was clear, and Yoda could only hope to the Force that all was well with the Jedi in the elevator.
At long last the maintenance crew managed to pry the door open and get a firm grasp on the control panel from the inside. They placed a small power unit there and retreated back to the corridor. They activated it.
The most blood-chilling scraping sound started immediately, and the lift's tube shuddered with pained metal. One of the crew reached out to turn the power unit off, but Yoda stopped him. He had a feeling.
After a few seconds of the terrible sound, it quieted almost completely, and they could slowly start hearing the repulsors nearing them.
When it arrived, everybody was surprised to see the lift intact. Mace still feared the worse.
The maintenance men struggled with the lift's doors, then, with a soft swoosh, it opened.
Qui-Gon stood there, looking sweaty but relieved. In his arms was Obi-Wan, sleeping soundly.
After Qui-Gon had placed the poor boy at the Healers', he approached Master Yoda and Windu. He smiled at the Jedi and said,
"Master Yoda, it was Obi-Wan all along! The one that I had a connection to-Oww!" Qui-Gon grabbed his wounded shin and watched as the small Master hobbled away, muttering to himself in agitation about dense Jedi and the ways of the Force.
It took Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon still more time to become official Master and Apprentice. Since Obi-Wan was bedridden for almost a week, and Qui-Gon didn't have any missions in the near future, he stayed with the boy, helped him get better.
The subject of Master and Padawan did not rise, neither even seemed to think of the idea.
In actuality, it was just so obvious to the both of them that they were surprised when the Council asked Qui-Gon about an apprentice.
"I had one for the last couple of months!" He exclaimed.
It was so obvious to the two of them that they needed each other's company, that they had forgotten to undergo all the usual procedures.
After that was cleared, nothing stood in their way, and the two could start on a long and hard journey together.
It wasn't long afterwards that Qui-Gon braided Obi-Wan's first Padawan's braid, and placed the first two colorful beads at its end.
It was hard to say which of them was prouder.
Yes, I know Yoda wouldn't ever get upset, but I thought this was a nice chance to show that even the small-ish troll had emotions. I just thought that from all the things he had seen and experienced, these two dense boys would be the ones to really agitate him… Oh, and I don't know why I had him start hitting people with his stick… Maybe I watched 'The Empire Strikes Back' too many times (Remember how Yoda starts hitting R2-D2?).
I read the two first Jedi Apprentice books, and got this strange idea on how Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon may have met.
(Re-uploaded –fixed many many many tenses problems… All corrections are thanks to the wonderful Erika! Thanks a bunch!)