Chapter Fourteen

Time and experience had led Obi-Wan to believe when he returned to their rooms at the inn, he would find Qui-Gon and his 'friend' in a state of undress, in a most compromising position. And so he carefully entered the place, announcing his arrival, only to find them both sitting on the sofa at least an arm's length from one another, wearing every stitch of clothing they'd had on when he'd left.

"Obi-Wan, come sit down," his Master requested, directing him to a carved chair fashioned from what appeared to be wood - possibly from one of the many trees he'd seen in Nu-Pea.

When Obi-Wan sat, it was the woman who addressed him. He found her voice as lovely as her features. Apparently, his Master felt the same, for when she spoke, he didn't take his eyes off her.

"Obi-Wan, I am Tah-Du," she said, her violet eyes shining bright and clear.

"Du?" Obi-Wan repeated, immediately attempting to make a connection.

"I am of the Du line. My brother is Win-Du, Grand Manager of the Soturi Battles, the same one who defeated your Master so long ago." When she mentioned the fight which had ended Qui-Gon's career as a Soturi, she reached over and took his Master's hand before continuing. "I have known Qui-Gon a long time. We met during his time in Upea and fell desperately in love." Her focus returned to his Master then, and she finished her introduction enraptured by their shared gaze. Obi-Wan had never seen two people look at one another like that before. Pad-Me certainly didn't look at him that way.

"Win defeated Qui-Gon, however, and even though the Emperor declared Selitys, allowing Qui-Gon his freedom, he could not stay in Upea. We were separated and have not been together since that terrible day."

Obi-Wan shifted uncomfortably on the seat as his Master stroked the woman's face with the back of his hand, wiping away the tears she had shed during her heartfelt admission. He shouldn't be hearing this, and felt as if he were intruding on a rather intimate moment. Obi-Wan abruptly rose from his seat, trying to think of an excuse to leave. His Master, however, apparently had other plans.

"Sit down, Obi-Wan."

"Yes, sir," the young man obeyed without question.

"Tah, darling," Qui-Gon addressed the woman. "Is this really necessary? You can tell the boy's rather embarrassed."

"Yes," Tah-Du demanded, returning her attention to the young warrior. "Obi-Wan, you need to understand the motivation behind Qui-Gon's drive to train you as Soturi. It's only fair. And Qui-Gon," she paused, a slight irritation lowering her brows as she turned back to his Master, "you should've shared all this long ago. The boy has questions. You can see it in his eyes.

Now, Obi-Wan, where was I?"

"You mentioned having been separated from my Master," Obi-Wan supplied, bringing a friendly smile to her full lips.

"Before he left Upea," Tah continued, "Qui-Gon promised to return as quickly as possible. Although his idea of what 'quick' means is up for debate."

Her attempt at humor only caused his Master to duck his head in shame. Never before had Obi-Wan seen his Master's face turn red. This woman apparently had great power over the man.

"Nevertheless, he has trained you as Soturi, and truly believes you are capable of winning the final battle, thus ensuring our future together."

Wait. Qui-Gon was depending upon his abilities to ensure he has a life with this woman? No wonder his Master hadn't shared this information beforehand! If the possibility of a painful death wasn't stressful enough!

"You see?" Qui-Gon leaned forward whispering quite loudly to Tah-Du. "It's too much for him to comprehend. I told you he wouldn't understand."

"No, I understand," Obi-Wan argued. The information might be overwhelming, but when it came to love, he did understand. Or, at least he thought he had until he'd seen these two together. "I'm in love myself."

Tah-Du's brows rose high as she considered his statement, looking to his Master for confirmation, only to receive an unsure quirky grin.

"Is that so?" she asked with what seemed to be genuine interest. "What's her name?"

"Pad-Me," Obi-Wan proudly announced. "I met her in Pentari. Qui-Gon introduced us."

His admission apparently impressed Tah-Du. She leaned foward, placing a kiss upon his master's mouth, "You see? I knew you were romantic."

"You have no idea," Qui-Gon replied without much subtlety.

Obi-Wan cleared his throat just in case the couple forgot he was in the room.

"Is Pad-Me coming to Nu-Pea to watch you battle?" Tah-Du asked, putting distance between herself and his Master again, although this time, not quite as much as before.

"She's going to try," Obi-Wan answered, though without much conviction. He hoped she would be there, and if she managed it, Obi-Wan was going to view it as a sign that his Master wasn't the only one with a romantic future.

"Did you check the arena schedule?"

Qui-Gon's question immediately focused Obi-Wan's stray thoughts. He was here for a reason, and he needed to remember that. "Yes Master. My first team battle is tomorow at mid morning. We are to report two tunti prior to the fight to become acquainted with my Soturi partner."

His Master didn't seem to be bothered by the details, but Obi-Wan was. He didn't like the idea of relying upon a stranger for his success.

"I'll be watching you with great interest," Tah-Du told him. "Just do your best."

"I'll try" he announced, hesitating when he felt she had something more to say.

"One more thing you need to know, Obi-Wan," she continued in a most serious tone, leveling her intense gaze at him. "My brother is ill and I am currently acting under the orders of the Emperor as Grand Manager. Even if you do defeat your next opponents, if the battles are not satisfactory, I will not be allowed to issue an invitation to Upea. So, when I say 'do your best', I expect just that. Nothing less."

Obi-Wan didn't reply this time, as he didn't think there was anything he could say to ease the worry so evident in the woman's face. The true meaning hidden behind her words was obvious. If he lost the battle she would lose Qui-Gon. Again.

There was much to consider, much to focus upon. Perhaps he should meditate. It had been a while since he had.