Chapter V – A Promise with a Little Monster
"The mighty Qui-Gon Jinn, being manipulated by a three year old." Tahl commented as she smiled at her friend. "Remind me to give that boy a hug, okay? I haven't seen you…so care-free." And she meant every word. Obi-Wan Kenobi was a special one—and secretly, Tahl promised to herself that she will look after the boy too. "You can come with me to the crèche to say goodbye, you know." He said as Tahl watched Qui-Gon move around his almost bare sleeping quarters packing his things. "Why do I sense that you're half-hearted about this mission?" Tahl asked as she followed her friend with her eyes. Qui-Gon simply snorted and shook his head, dumping an extra tunic in his bag. "Do we have a choice? Besides, I have stayed in the Temple way too long for my liking." He said as he folded his other tunics and trousers and placed it back inside his closet. Tahl leaned on the door frame and crossed her arms. Apparently, Qui-Gon's response wasn't satisfactory to her.
Qui-Gon cupped his hand over his mouth as he contemplated on an object inside his cabinet. Force knows how long that thing has been in his possession. He picked it up and it immediately reacted to his touch. "I've had this River Stone from my home planet since we were Initiates. I wonder if Obi-Wan will like it if I give it to him?" Qui-Gon asked and showed Tahl his stone. "One, even if you give that young boy a grain of sand, he'd treasure it with his life as long as it came from you. Two, are you sure? It's…the closest thing you've got to your family…" Tahl said as she picked the stone up. "It has helped me in so many ways and I want to pass it down. Obi-Wan could be great once he realizes his powers." Qui-Gon said as he crossed his arms on his chest. "Then why not give it to your prospect padawan?" Tahl asked as she tilted her head. "I have seen the Telosian boy fight and he's confident with himself. Obi-Wan isn't, and I want him to help him trust himself…even if I'm not his master." Qui-Gon explained. "Very well, Master Qui-Gon. I won't question you." His friend said and returned the rock to its owner. "I just hope you make the right decision about this Telosian kid." Tahl added. "Tahl, we are not going to have that conversation again. I respect your opinion, but please respect my decision too." Qui-Gon said as he placed the rock inside his utility belt. Tahl sighed and kept silent.
"Very well, the manipulator that you fondly call my little master may not appreciate it if I'm late." Qui-Gon smirked at his friend and headed for the door. "Will you be coming?" Qui-Gon asked as he paused in his tracks. Tahl simply shook her head. "I think it's best that Obi-Wan's attention won't be split between us. I know you'd hate that." She said as she made her way towards the door too. "Besides, I need to review our mission one last time before our final briefing later this afternoon. Go on. I'll just meet you at the crèche." Tahls said as she pushed Qui-Gon out the door and into the turbolift that will bring him to the crèche.
Like any other day, the crèche's common room was in chaos due to the hyper active young initiates. One particular boy stood in the middle, fidgeting with the hem of his oversized sleeve as he looked around him. Qui-Gon gave him and assignment and told him that if he wanted to become a strong Jedi Knight one day, he has to try and make at least one friend today. The little initiate frowned at the small task before him. In that moment, the other children paused and turned to see who came and visited them. Qui-Gon Jinn bowed to Master Kess at the threshold and made his way inside the crèche. At least 10 pairs of eyes looked at him and with faces having slacked jaws, and he grinned in return. By this time, he was getting used to getting the stares and facial expression. He scanned the small room for a particular boy and he immediately spotted him at the center looking at his fellow initiates with a confused look. A few seconds lingered and this boy did turn and looked at the person who entered.
"Kee-gun!" Confusion was replaced with unexplainable joy and excitement as Obi-Wan raced towards the big man and hugged his boot. A pair of ice-blue eyes looked up at the big man and smiled. "Hewwo!" Obi-Wan beamed. The other initiates continued to stare at the two, completely cloaked in surprise and confusion. He knows who this is? "Hello there, my young friend. How have you been?" Qui-Gon stooped and brushed Obi-Wan's head, while returning his own sincere smile. "I'm happy! You hewe!" the little boy released his hug and started to jump up and down. The tall jedi chuckled at the sudden burst of energy. "I can see that. And I'm happy to be here too." Qui-Gon replied and looked back at the other small children. He greeted the rest of the clan, and silence was returned to him. Obi-Wan stopped jumping and faced his fellow initiates with a determined look on his face. Didn't Master Tahl said that it was rude not to return a greeting? Obi-Wan blinked and frowned. "You thay hewwo when thombody thayth hewwo!" he didn't exactly made friends with them, but he knew his place this time. They were being rude, and he won't let them be in front of Qui-Gon. "You know him, Obi-Wan?" A small Mon Calamari female initiate squeaked. "Yeth, heeth my fwend. Hith name ith Mathter Kee-Gun!" Qui-Gon looked down and grinned at Obi-Wan's boldness and bravery. Didn't Kess tell him that he didn't interact with his fellow initiates? "Apparently, there was improvement." And a big one too.
"Hello, master…" said the clan in unison. Obi-Wan looked up at him and gave the tall master a smile of victory. As if remembering something really important, the boy reached high and held Qui-Gon's hand. "I show you thometing!" Qui-Gon bent down a bit and let Obi-Wan drag him to the center of the room. "You wait hewe, I get my toy!" without further ado, Obi-Wan went to their common bedroom and rummaged through his belongings. He wanted to play with the gift that Master Yoda gave him: a set of wooden action figures shaped like a pair of jedis. As soon as he found the toy, he raced outside again to their common room and found Qui-Gon sitting down on the floor playing with the other children. Obi-Wan stood off center looking at his fellow initiates and Qui-Gon happily playing with the different toys that were scattered across the floor. One was brave enough to climb up his back just to get the master's attention. Obi-Wan's smile slowly faded and he looked at the toys in his small hands with a pair of sad eyes. How was he going to show Qui-Gon his toys if he found other Initiates to play with? Feeling a bit defeated, he turned around with his head bowed down and made his way back to his bed.
"Little Monsters…" Qui-Gon gently placed his hand behind him to support the young creature who decided to climb up his back. He was prompted to look at Kess who at that moment looked undecided and sad. He followed her gaze just in time to see Obi-Wan in retreat. "What happened to him?" he reached out to the force and felt Obi-Wan's Force signature with a tinge of disappointment and sadness. "But why?" he immediately knew the answer as he looked around him. He was literally swarmed with the other children. "Was he upset that I was playing with his fellow initiates?" Qui-Gon turned again and looked at Kess. The crèche master looked back and gave him a smile. She mouthed the name Obi-Wan to him and he nodded.
"All right younglings, why don't you give our visitor a little room to breathe? Come on now…Reeft, please get off Master Jinn's back, I reckon you're too heavy even for a master like him. And Siri, don't stick that plastoid flower to his hair. He's a man, not a girl." Kess gently reprimanded the initiates and they scurried off to play somewhere else. Qui-Gon pulled himself and plastoid toys fell off him as he straightened his tunic. He wasted no time and made his way towards Obi-Wan's quarters. As soon as he found the room, he opened the door by the use of the Force, since the controls were placed too low for his reach. There he found Obi-Wan under his blanket. Apparently, Obi-Wan decided to just play by himself underneath it.
"Hey there." Qui-Gon greeted the boy and sat on the bed next to Obi-Wan's. "Hi." Was the boy's soft response. "What are you doing underneath your blanket, young one?" Qui-Gon leaned forward, resting his elbows on top of his knees. "I'm pwaying wif the toy Mathter Yoda gave me." Obi-Wan continued to move the figures across his bed without taking the blankets off him. "Don't you feel hot in there, Obi-Wan?" Qui-Gon asked full of concern. The boy did not respond, and the older master assumed that he was indeed feeling uncomfortable. Gently, he took the blankets off Obi-Wan and he smiled at the boy as soon as he saw his young face.
"You wanna pway wif me?"
"Hewe. That's Mathter Yoda…and thith ith me!" Obi-Wan gave the smaller figure to Qui-Gon as he took the larger one. "And…I suppose that I will pretend to be Master Yoda?" Qui-Gon asked with an amused smile as he helped Obi-Wan get off his bed and stood beside Qui-Gon. "Mhmm!" Obi-Wan nodded furiously and smiled. "Leth pway!" Minutes passed as the two Jedi played with the wooden figures. Qui-Gon did not notice the time and was pulled back to reality when his comm link started to beep. After the conversation, Qui-Gon sighed and gently brushed Obi-Wan's head.
"I have to leave now, Obi-Wan."
"Whewe you goin?"
"To another planet. I have a mission with Tahl."
"When wiw you be back?"
"Will you come and vithit me when you come home?"
"I'll try, young one." If it was possible to hear his own heart break, Qui-Gon thought that the whole temple would have heard it. "I'll be weally happy to thee you come home…" Obi-Wan replied and looked up at the tall master. He can't decide if he should be happy or sad about Qui-Gon leaving. It was confusing!
"Promise me one thing, Obi-Wan. You will make friends while I'm gone, okay?"
"Wiw that make you happy?"
"Very, my friend." Qui-Gon smiled and scooped up the young boy and sat him on his lap. "You have a good heart Obi-Wan. I'm sure they will love it to have you as their friend." Obi-Wan simply nodded and leaned on Qui-Gon's chest clutching the wooden figure in his hands. "I have something for you." Qui-Gon got the stone out of his pouch and gave it to Obi-Wan. The little boy dropped his wooden toys on the bed and got the stone off of Qui-Gon's fingers. As soon as it touched Obi-Wan's palm, the veins on the stone started to glow. The boy opened and closed his palm on the stone and stared at it with awe as he felt the Force flow freely in and out of him. "Will you take good care of it?" Qui-Gon asked as he watched the boy on his lap. Obi-Wan nodded and looked up at him. Obi-Wan scrambled to stand on the master's thighs and hugged him around his neck. "I will mith you…" Qui-Gon caught his breath and blinked. "This boy, really…" Qui-Gon smiled as stroked Obi-Wan's tiny back. "We will see each other again. I promise."
Master Kess hated to interrupt the two, but it seems that Master Tahl needed his partner already. They were being summoned to meet with the Council for the last time before they fly off planet. A knock on the door prompted the tall master that it was finally time to go. "Master Jinn…Master Tahl is waiting for you outside." Qui-Gon nodded and put Obi-Wan down. The tall master headed for the door and looked back at the three year old Obi-Wan. "I will see you again, Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon offered him a smile and Obi-Wan looked up at him. It was good that he didn't see tears, but Qui-Gon was sure that Obi-Wan was starting to feel lonely. Obi-Wan raised his hand and waved. "Byebye Mathter Kee-gun."
He felt it best not to look back again, because he knew that he will have a hard time saying goodbye. He has got his duties before him, and he knew that he should attend to it immediately. Qui-Gon thanked Kess and nodded to Tahl. But before he could even step out to the threshold, a running Obi-Wan Kenobi darted towards him. "Mathter Keegun! Mathter Keegun!" Qui-Gon turned around and caught Obi-Wan. "What is it child?" Qui-Gon crouched in front of him and brushed the hair off of Obi-Wan's forehead. "I gif you a gift too! Hewe!" Obi-Wan gave the smaller wooden figure to Qui-Gon.
"A parting gift?"
"But this is Master Yoda's gift to you…Master Yoda might get upset if he finds out—"
"Nonono! Ith mine now, and I gif it to you. Ith my gift." Obi-Wan explained and pointed to the small figure on Qui-Gon's hand. "I don't think I need to have a reminder of my old master, young one." Qui-Gon said as he smiled at Obi-Wan's logic and thoughtfulness. "Nu-uh. That ith me! … And thith ith you!" he said as he showed him the bigger figure. Qui-Gon paused as he took in what the boy said. It was a simple and innocent explanation, but to him it meant a thousand things. He knows very well that he isn't quite liked in the Order aside from a chosen and very few friends. The thoughtfulness and trust emanating from the human boy was enough to overwhelm the giant jedi. He immediately felt loved…like family.
He realized that Yoda giving this particular set of figures to Obi-Wan was a bit unusual, let alone receive anything material from the ancient master. Sure, Yoda loved the Younglings, but he just would not give a gift without a cryptic message. As he turned the toy in his hand, he realized that the figures represented a Master and a Padawan from the way it was carved out. Obi-Wan have innocently given himself to the master, while the master remained with the boy who was ready to wait for his homecoming. Did Yoda see a vision of the future? Does this mean that at this age, Obi-Wan has already placed his full trust on Qui-Gon? Did it also mean that he was meant to teach this child? "You're thinking far ahead, Jinn. The here and now. .now."
Smiling at his realization he hugged the boy before him and whispered a sincere thank you. "I will keep it safe, Obi-Wan. And until we meet again…" he gently clanked the smaller figure with the bigger one making Obi-Wan smile…and hopeful.
Qui-Gon stood up and placed the toy inside his utility belt. "Kess, we should be going." He gave her a courteous nod and glanced quickly at Obi-Wan who was looking at him. Even if it was just a glimpse, he took the opportunity to memorize Obi-Wan's eyes. "Let him go, Jinn. Let go."
"Very well Master Jinn, Master Tahl. May the Force be with you." Master Kess bid the masters farewell as she carried Obi-Wan in her arms. The boy embraced the wooden figure against his chest and waved the Jedis before him goodbye. Tahl, without saying a word turned around and started to walk away from Master Kess and the boy. Qui-Gon reached out to Obi-Wan one last time, and he too turned away without saying a word and literally dragged his feet away from the child he has grown to love.
"Hard, isn't it?" Tahl asked without looking at her companion. "He's really something, Qui. But he's too young to be your Padawan…" the female jedi trailed off as she looked at Qui-Gon. "I know, Tahl. That is the very reason why we don't take them as learners at a very young age. We grow attached to them…" Qui-Gon hung his head as he walked. "Love and attachment are two different things, Qui." Tahl squeezed Qui-Gon's arm to cheer him up. "…you love this boy like your own. I can feel it." Tahl added. "If you listen closely to what the Force tells you about this boy…promise me not to defy it?" Tahl asked. "What in the galaxy are you saying?" Qui-Gon returned the question. "It's either you've sustained a brain damage or you're being really daft." Tahl shook her head and continued. "I'm talking about Xanatos. Are you sure about taking him as your padawan?" Tahl looked up at him seriously. "What does it have to do with Xanatos? Besides, I've seen his potential. I'll give him a few more years…and we shall discuss about his fate again. Is that all right, Master Tahl?" Qui-Gon replied grinning at his friend. "I don't know, Jinn. The way you acted around Obi-Wan…it's as if you're his father. Doesn't that tell you anything? Why don't you wait until he is old enough to be picked as a padawan? Seven standard years isn't that long. You can train him when he turns ten." Qui-Gon stayed silent as he analyzed what Tahl said.
Qui-Gon looked at her and swallowed hard. Tahl knew the exact words to describe how he felt towards the boy, but then he can't wait for seven standard years for him not when Yoda and Mace kept telling him to get a padawan already. "I'm pretty sure I didn't get any woman pregnant. Besides, as you have pointed out, he wouldn't be that cute if I was his father." He replied trying to lighten the mood. Tahl rolled her eyes as Qui-Gon tried his best to bring the topic back to Obi-Wan. "I wouldn't be so sure about that, Jinn. You're pretty interesting to the ladies." Tahl shook her head smiling and blushed a bit.
"What do you mean…"
"Shut up, Jinn. You know it's true…"
"How can I be…"
"Drop it. I don't want you looking smug in front of the Council."
"Jinn. Stop. You're blushing."
The two masters continued to bicker as they made their way to the Council Chamber for their final debriefing. That same afternoon, they boarded a ship and sped off to another planet for a rescue mission. Days and months passed when Qui-Gon started on solo missions once more. Tahl would get regular holo-calls from her friend as he shared with her his dilemmas and frustrations. When the Winter Solstice neared, Tahl rounded up Yoda, Mace, Cig, Kess and Obi-Wan to participate in a holo-video for Qui-Gon who wouldn't be home in the Temple for his birthday. As soon as Qui-Gon got Tahl's present, his burdens were lifted as he watched and listened to his closest friends greet him. Obviously, Obi-Wan was the highlight of the video. Qui-Gon chuckled as Obi-Wan started to tell him stories about his day, how he lost his front tooth and introduced his new friends. The lone master who was light years away from Coruscant smiled contentedly as he watched Obi-Wan talk all the time not letting any of his friends greet him. It became Qui-Gon's habit to play the holo-video once in a while to keep his spirit up.
As the years passed, the holo-video was lost and forgotten as the lone master took on more demanding missions with other knights. And as time progressed, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan began to tread different paths. Nine years have passed and Obi-Wan became friendlier with his clan, and ended up having great friends as well as excelling in most of his classes. Qui-Gon on the other hand had a more emotional journey. Within the span of nine standard years, he trained his second padawan—Xanatos, and within those years, Qui-Gon also lost him to the dark side. Qui-Gon was too broken and he decided to fly solo forever, making his old master and closest friends worry. It was mission after mission for him, making him a very experienced and renowned Jedi Master—albeit a lonely one. With what transpired over the years for the two, they have sadly forgotten each other. They may now be strangers but somewhere deep down the Force, it knew that they will rekindle their friendship once more.
And that day, was coming soon…
A/N – And my first fanfiction for Starwars is done! Yaaay! To all the readers…those who reviewed….thank you for taking the time to R&R! I really REALLY appreciate it. ALSO, although this is a far cry from what George can do, I'd like to dedicate it to the genius behind the Starwars universe because today, President Obama awarded Sir George Lucas a National Medal of the Arts. A long overdue recognition from the White House! Congratulations again, Sir George! We are all proud of you!
I'm already working on my next fanfic…in fact, I already have the ending. I know, I'm weird. But anyway, I hope you're still interested on the next one…I don't mind the views really, because I just want my stories out there, published. But you know…reviews are good too. So…*whistles*
Anyhow, I hope you all enjoyed my take on how our favourite Master-Padawan team's first encounter. Until the next 'book'!