Re-Entry: Waking Dream

by Flamethrower (

Archive - MA yes. Anyone else I'm nervous about, but asking nicely will go a long way towards changing my mind.

Category - Uhm.... goodness. Q/O, AU, Hurt/Comfort, Mild Angst (more as the story develops), Pre-Slash, Drama, A/A, and eventually, of course, real slash.

Rating - PG-13

Warnings - None so far.

Spoilers - Possible spoilers for E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, E6... References to and useage of characters and situations from the JA books, possible nods to the prequel novels, and info and a character from the Darkhorse comics.

Summary - An injury during a mission leads to some strange revelations for Qui-Gon and the Jedi Order.

Series order so far is:

Waking Dream <-- You are here.


Bits and Pieces - Will be revamped eventually.

Diverging Paths

Diverging Paths II

Diverging Paths III

Diverging Paths IV


Attainment II

Feedback - Oh yes, please! Feed the muses! Feed the author! Joyful commentary and criticisms equally accepted.

Disclaimer - "Rob? That's a naughty word, we never rob! We just... sort of borrow."
"Borrow? Boy, are we in debt!"

Everything belongs to Lucas. I'm just borrowing it.

Dedicated to Ami, who loves this story (strangely enough) and kindly beta'd for me. She's the reason it survived past bunny-stage.

Author's note - This is my first posted slash-fic... one that came from a fragment of an idea and grew far beyond my expectations. Be gentle with me!

Micah Giett is a character created by DarkHorse, and was Ki Adi Mundi's predecessor on the Jedi Council. Looks VERY much like a Jedi Samuri, top-knot and all. Nifty guy.

For all of you who might be wondering about the Lightsaber Forms I'm mentioning, it's relatively new canon, published in the Insider about six months or so ago. Interesting little bits of information, though as yet I can't find a website that lists ALL of the things the Insider printed. This one is the best sources:

The city of Sienca was large, highly industrial, and covered with an uninteresting mix of construction, factories, tenant buildings, and filth. It was an easy city to get lost in, and as Qui-Gon Jinn ducked behind a building while blaster bolts sailed past, he conceded to himself that while he was not lost, he was not exactly sure of his location.

The mission to Taro Tre had been horrible from the very start. The negotiations the native population had requested Jedi mediation for had disintegrated quickly into name calling and taunts. He had realized quickly that his and Obi-Wan's presence would not help, and continuing to remain might well endanger their lives.

They had made it half-way through the city, making for the spaceport on the outskirts, when the fighting had begun in earnest. Riots had erupted seemingly out of nowhere. By the time Qui-Gon had fought his way free of the press of bodies, Obi-Wan was no longer by his side. They were separated by several blocks, forced to flee in different directions to keep from getting killed by a bloodthirsty populace. It was only the presence of the training bond, shining brightly in Qui-Gon's mind, that kept him from frantic worry for his Padawan.

Qui-Gon made a flying leap, catching the rungs of a rusty fire escape ladder and quickly climbing to the top of a broken-down tenant building. From the roof he could see spirals of smoke rising into the sky from multiple points in the city, including the spaceport. Now that he could see it, Qui-Gon realized with relief that he was closer than he had originally thought. He hoped their transport was still intact.

Obi-Wan, where are you?

There was a moment of tense silence, and he could feel Obi-Wan half-struggling to form a coherent reply. His mental talents were still shaky, but after a bare three years together, it was to be expected. Somewhere nearby Master, he said finally, exhaustion in his mental voice. They'd been on the run for hours, and the young man's reserves were dangerously low. Do you know if lightsabers can deflect slugs?

Slugs? Qui-Gon blinked, for a moment wondering if the rioting natives had resorted to throwing insects instead of bricks.

Obi-Wan heard the thought, and laughed. Don't I --OW!-- don't I wish!

Padawan? Qui-Gon demanded instantly. What happened?

Just a scratch, Master.

Qui-Gon frowned in concern and annoyance. To his sixteen year-old Padawan, a scratch was nothing to be concerned with, even if said 'scratch' was as long as his arm and bleeding profusely. They're using slugthrowers, I take it. The weapons were made of wood and plasteel, and fired a slug of metal at high velocity. Very archaic, but just as deadly as a blaster.

Yes, Master. I decided running for my life was the better part of valor.

Wise decision, Padawan, Qui-Gon replied, lips quirking up slightly at the young man's humor. It was just developing, tended to be sarcastic and morbid, and rampaging Banthas would never get him to admit that he enjoyed it more than a Jedi Master should. There's a spire in the distance. Do you see it?

Yes, Master. If it's the one we saw on our way in, the spaceport is only a klik farther north.

It is. Meet me there. And your lightsaber will not deflect a slug, but it will melt it. Qui-Gon turned as a blaster bolt hit the ground next to his feet. Apparently the natives weren't going to give up on bagging a Jedi. He ran, diving off of the roof and hitting the ground a moment later. There was a muffled sound of surprise from above, but he didn't stick around to find out how impressed they were that he was able to run away from a twelve-story jump.

Obi-Wan was waiting at the spire, his back against it, lightsaber ignited as he grimly defended himself against attack. Several of the locals were approaching, firing blasters and slugthrowers. The fact that their own blasts were hitting them as Obi-Wan deflected the energy didn't seem to occur to them, trapped in the mindlessness of their own bloody rage.

Qui-Gon ignited his lightsaber and intersected two blasts. Obi-Wan gave him a quick, grateful glance, and they settled back to back, the spire behind them, and worked in concert to defend themselves against their attackers. Qui-Gon was relieved to see that the cut on Obi-Wan's arm was shallow, no longer even bleeding. For once, the boy had been honest about his injury.

The slugs were a nuisance, sizzling through their lightsabers and leaving a noxious stink behind that made their eyes sting and water. The blaster bolts they were turning back were doing an admirable job of cutting down their opposition, but still the remaining few kept on firing, edging closer as they did so.

He was getting tired of this. Qui-Gon reached out with a tendril of Force, collapsing an already-weakened wall and burying two of their attackers in the rush of debris. Messy but workable. He considered doing it again when Obi-Wan fell to the pavement, his lightsaber clattering to the ground.

Instinct and long years of experience took over, guiding his movements to protect both of them. His Padawan was injured, he knew, but he dared not spare even a glance to see how badly.

Obi-Wan must have done something while he was tearing down the wall, because only two opponents remained. As quickly as he could, he dispatched them and clipped his lightsaber to his belt before turning back to his Padawan. "Obi-Wan?"

He couldn't stop the cry that emerged from his throat. Obi-Wan was sprawled on the ground, eyes closed, pale as death. Blood was flowing from a wound near his temple. Slug, he distantly identified the cause of the damage. It must have slipped through the boy's guard.

Qui-Gon cursed himself, slugthrowers, and the planet in general as he felt for a pulse, unaware of the tears that tracked down his face. Beneath his fingers he finally felt a beat, low and thready, but there. His Padawan was alive. Releasing a breath he didn't know he was holding, Qui-Gon probed the wound with the Force. The slug had impacted with the boy's skull but had not penetrated. As he stopped the bleeding with the Force, he noticed the way the cut from the slug ran from the edge of Obi-Wan's forehead well back into his hair. Even with bacta, there was a chance his Padawan would have one hell of a scar.

He did all he knew to do, then gathered Obi-Wan up in his arms. Healers were what Obi-Wan needed now. Grimly, he drew on the Force and ran for the spaceport.

Qui-Gon wasn't sure why he chose to return to Coruscant, even as the ship accelerated into hyperspace. There were medical facilities much closer, but he wasn't about to question the instinct that had prodded him to enter those coordinates. The Force had never sent him down the wrong path, and he would have faith that it was the right thing to do.

He found the ship's medical kit and returned to Obi-Wan's side. His Padawan was laid out on the bunk, still horribly pale. Quickly Qui-Gon found a blanket and covered him, then added another blanket to stave off the shock he knew Obi-Wan's body must be suffering. Then he carefully cleaned Obi-Wan's wounds, removing blood and dirt before applying a bacta gel over both cuts. That done, he settled down cross-legged on the floor next to the bunk.

Obi-Wan? he tried cautiously. Can you hear me, Padawan?

Silence. Their bond was quiet, alarmingly so. Even asleep there was an almost staticky presence of thought and emotion running through their mental connection, a system that always allowed him to ascertain Obi-Wan's well-being.

After several years of constant presence, the silence was deafening.

Qui-Gon enclosed one of Obi-Wan's cold hands in both of his own, staring down at the still form. Hold on, Obi-Wan. Stay with me, he pleaded earnestly. The thought of losing his Padawan was unthinkable, not after all the boy had come to mean to him. Whatever happened, he swore to himself, he was not leaving Obi-Wan's side.

"I don't know what's wrong with him."

Qui-Gon blinked, and it took a long moment for the Healer's words to penetrate his exhaustion. "What do you mean, you don't know?"

Terza shrugged slightly, unfazed by the threatening tone in Jinn's voice. He probably wasn't even aware of it. "I mean that asides from his obvious injury, I'm not sure what's wrong with him. He shouldn't be unconscious like this."

Qui-Gon fought back against the spike of fear Terza's words caused. Two days on the transport home, and a full day in the medical center, and his Padawan had not yet awoken. He had been hoping it was simple healing sleep, but apparently this was not the case. "Can you try explaining it to me?"

Terza snorted. "That would be difficult, Master Jinn." When the elder Jedi simply stared at her, she sighed and nodded. "Here's what we do know. The slug that hit him fractured his skull, but not badly. We've already repaired that damage. The brain doesn't appear to be injured beyond some tissue bruising from the impact of the slug. It was a sudden burst of pressure, but it really should not have been enough to cause this comatose state."

Comatose state. Qui-Gon sank back in his chair, turning weary eyes to the young man in the bed beside him. The wound from the slug had been healed to a faint pink line, starkly visible against the white of Obi-Wan's skin. His student looked terribly vulnerable, more so than Qui-Gon had ever seen. The collection of wires and i.v. lines that connected his body to the machines that monitored it only made the impression worse.

Terza was studying him, he realized, and he looked back at her questioningly. "Tell me," she said. "What's the state of your bond with him?"

"Silent." Qui-Gon swallowed. The continued silence worried him more than anything. "It's been silent ever since he was injured."

Terza found her concern growing by leaps and bounds. Walking forward, she placed her hands gently on the young man's face, breathing in as she called on the Force. Terza touched the boy's mind with a tendril of thought, and jerked her hands back as she encountered white noise and fierce static. "Force gods!" she cried out inadvertently.

"What? What happened?!" Qui-Gon was standing next to her, his hands on her shoulders as blue eyes looked at her intently.

She shook her head, trying to fling off the last vestiges of confusion the contact had created in her own mind. "I'm not sure, but I can't reach him." Terza closed her eyes for a moment, breathing deeply. "You try."

Qui-Gon hesitantly placed a hand on Obi-Wan's forehead, reaching out to touch the boy's mind. Frowning, he shook his head after a long moment. "Nothing. I don't sense anything."

"Nothing?" Terza blinked. "Qui-Gon, I tried to touch that boy's mind and got smacked with the mental equivalent of a padded wall. You don't sense anything?"

"I sense that he's alive. Other than that, nothing." He sighed, big frame slumped over in weariness and concern. Qui-Gon brushed Obi-Wan's short, spiky hair and looked at Terza with watery eyes. "What can we do?"

Terza hated to speak the words. "I don't know."

Master Yoda found Qui-Gon that evening, huddled in a chair with his cloak draped over his body. He blinked and looked up in surprise as the tiny Master entered the room. "Master Yoda." He struggled to stand, but Yoda immediately waved his gimer stick at him to stay where he was.

"Master Qui-Gon," Yoda greeted him softly, large green eyes luminous in the dim light. "How is your Padawan?"

He settled back down in the chair, Force-willing his exhaustion away. "I don't know, Master," he said truthfully, regretfully. "The Healers are not certain why his condition remains this way."

"Hmmm." Yoda lifted himself into the chair on the other side of Obi-Wan's bed. He looked down at the unconscious youth sadly. "Concerned, I am. Concerned, we all are."

"Yes," Qui-Gon whispered.

Yoda's ears twitched, and he lay his hand on Obi-Wan's chest. Closing his eyes, the ancient Master muttered to himself under his breath for a full minute. Qui-Gon could feel the Force swirl around the other Master and leaned forward curiously. Perhaps Yoda would succeed to reach Obi-Wan where the rest of them had failed.

Yoda drew his hand back and opened his eyes, frowning. "Unusual, this is. Yes, yes. Most unusual."

"Master Yoda?"

Yoda looked up as if he had forgotten Qui-Gon was there. "Wait, we must. Nothing is there that we can do."

"Nothing? Nothing at all?" Qui-Gon sank back in near despair. "Master, please. There must be something I can do." His voice cracked on the words.

Yoda tilted his head, regarding Qui-Gon with a fond smile. "Perhaps there is. But first you must rest."

Qui-Gon immediately shook his head. "No. I'm not leaving him."

Yoda sighed audibly. "Idiot old crechling of mine. Leaving him you will not be. Rest you need, or fall on your face you will." Yoda turned back to Obi-Wan, patting the bed. "Watch over him, I will. Return in the morning rested. Then reach him, you will."

"But I can't reach him. I've tried--" Qui-Gon winced as an invisible force smacked his shins.

"There is no try. Teach you that eventually, I will!" Yoda shook his head, glaring at him. "Go and rest, Qui-Gon. Take a while, this might."

The little troll had been right, Qui-Gon had to admit. He opened his eyes to sunshine the next morning and felt immensely better, enjoying his first true rest in a week. Immediately he touched on the training bond, disappointed when it was exactly the same. But, he consoled himself, it could be worse. Much worse.

He showered and dressed, stuffing the clothes he had abandoned on the floor the night before into the laundry chute. Then he went to the kitchen, making tea out of habit. Sipping the hot beverage and letting the liquid soothe his aching throat, Qui-Gon leaned back against the counter and sent a tendril of thought down to the Healer's ward.

The same, he is, Yoda informed him immediately. Breakfast, you should eat.

Qui-Gon considered the state of his stomach and shuddered. Breakfast was one thing he didn't need. But his shins would suffer for it if Yoda realized his suggestion had not been followed.

He raided the freezer, even managed to put some interest into it. Obi-Wan had prepared and frozen quite a number of things for quick heating. Qui-Gon cooked as well as a Hutt sang, and both of them feared the commissary, but his Padawan could take several nothings and turn it into quite a wonderful something.

While his breakfast heated, Qui-Gon leaned against the counter distractedly. Please wake up, Obi-Wan. I no longer know what I would do without you.

He was striding down the hall, cloak billowing out behind him, when someone called his name. He forced himself to stop and turn, burying his annoyance out of long practice. The last thing he needed was someone delaying him with Temple matters. He had already been away from Obi-Wan's side for too long.

It was only Mace. Qui-Gon would wait and see if his old friend was bringing Temple business to his attention or not. Then he could strangle the Councilor at his leisure.

"Qui-Gon, you walk faster than most people run," Mace said, smiling warmly. Not Temple business, then, or Mace would be addressing him by title. It was a shame. In his present state of mind, strangling someone didn't sound all that horrible.

"Mace," he nodded in greeting.

Mace Windu had long years experience in reading his friend. "What's wrong, Qui-Gon? You look ready to strangle someone."

"Very perceptive," Qui-Gon said, smiling a little. His anger did not leave him, but it eased somewhat. Mace was a good friend, when he wasn't being infuriating. "The Temple just received a message from Taro Tre." His smile vanished. "Apparently the planetary government has decided that Obi-Wan and I are responsible for their descent into civil war, and are calling for the Senate to return us to Sienca for proper punishment."

Mace cursed under his breath, careful not to be heard by the Jedi passing nearby. "They don't know when to quit, do they? Qui-Gon, I'm sorrier than ever that the Council elected to send you. We thought it might have been a lost cause in the first place, but it was worth a shot. I'm sorry that you and Obi-Wan are suffering because of their blindness."

Qui-Gon shook his head. "We had no way of knowing it would truly come down to this. Finis has assured me that Taro Tre will be verbally flogged for its request."

"Ouch," Mace said. Chancellor Vallorum was a gentle man by nature, but once goaded into anger, he was formidable indeed. "Taro Tre may soon find themselves ostracized from the Republic. This is not the first time that their actions have proven... hmmm. Undesirable." Qui-Gon snorted at Mace's diplomatic phrasing. "Finis thinks a great deal of you and Obi-Wan, especially with the work the two of you have been doing for him lately."

When Qui-Gon looked away in distress, Mace laid a hand on his arm. "How is he, Qui-Gon?"

"The same," Qui-Gon replied, looking down at the floor. He had never dealt well with sympathy, especially after Xanatos. He supposed it was a credit to himself that he was not fleeing from the comfort his friend was offering. Or more appropriately, the credit should be given to the young man who lay unconscious in the Healer's ward.

"He's going to be okay, Qui-Gon. He's strong in body and mind, and just as stubborn as you are." Mace grinned.

Qui-Gon looked up at that, raising one eyebrow. "I am not stubborn. I'm -- " he bit off the flow of words as something changed. He whirled around even as an integral part of his mind fell away from him.

Obi-Wan! He was running for the Healers before he gave it conscious thought.

Mace followed, keeping up with Qui-Gon even as the other Jedi made for Obi-Wan's room in a blur of Force-enhanced speed. They both drew up short in the doorway, and Yoda looked up in surprise as they appeared. "Wrong, something is?"

Qui-Gon stared at his apprentice, laying in the bed and looking exactly as he had the night before.

"What happened?" Mace demanded, looking back and forth between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. The Master's face was almost as white as his Padawan's.

"He... it... " Qui-Gon swallowed and shook his head as if to clear it. "The bond. It's... gone."

"Gone?" Mace echoed, and it took him a long moment to discern Qui-Gon's words. The other man was visibly stunned. "Your training bond?"

Yoda's ears shot up. "Tell us what you felt, you will. Tell us what occurred."

Qui-Gon walked slowly towards the bed, almost afraid his Padawan would vanish before his eyes. "I was speaking with Mace, and the bond snapped."

"Snapped?" Yoda stared piercingly at Qui-Gon. "Felt this you did?"

"Yes Master," Qui-Gon said, touching Obi-Wan's hand lightly. "It felt like... like death. I was afraid that his injuries..." Qui-Gon drew in a shaky breath. "I was afraid he was gone. But he's still here." The relief in the man's voice was palatable. Yoda and Mace exchanged a glance. Both of them instinctively knew that if Obi-Wan passed into the Force, Qui-Gon might be lost as well. The light that effused the young man had been a strong balm for a wounded soul, after so many years of loneliness. To lose that light after accepting it so deeply into his heart might serve to be the elder man's undoing.

Mace glanced at the readouts the machines produced, frowning. "There's been no changes in his condition for the last half hour, and we got here in less than two minutes. And you say your bond with him is gone?"

"Absolutely," Qui-Gon nodded, sitting down in the chair he'd claimed as his own. "There's nothing. Master Yoda, what could have caused this? Did you feel anything?"

Yoda tapped his gimer stick against the arm of his chair. "Feel anything, I did not. What caused this, I know not. Call to him, you should. Reach him you might."

Qui-Gon met Yoda's eyes for a long moment, then nodded. "Very well." He took Obi-Wan's unresisting hand in his own. The physical contact was unnecessary, but reassuring. He took a deep breath, centering in the Force, and reached for his Padawan's mind. Obi-Wan?

Nothing answered him, but he thought he felt the briefest flicker of awareness. Encouraged, he followed it, and was immediately caught up in a surge of violent emotions and images that slammed into him like a tidal wave.

Blood and pain. Flames roared up, licking at his skin, catching at his clothing.

He gasped, almost retching, and realized he was on the floor. Mace was clinging to him, pinning his arms and yelling something that Qui-Gon couldn't make his mind interpret. It sounded like his name, and he realized he was fighting the other man's grip mindlessly.

He forced himself to relax, his body unbearably tense. Drawing air into lungs that felt starved, he looked up blearily to find Yoda looking down at him. Worry was in the little Master's eyes. "What... what happened?" he rasped. His throat was sore, as if he'd been screaming.

Judging by the concern Mace and Yoda were broadcasting, maybe he had been. He swallowed, trying to soothe his dry throat, and tried again. "What happened?"

"You tell us," Mace said, carefully helping Qui-Gon up off the floor and back into the chair. "You were fine one minute, screaming and raving the next. What did you see?"

"Don't know. It's muddled..." he leaned back and closed his eyes, trying to put his benumbed brain back into some sort of order. Focus. Focus. He needed to focus. "It was... frightening. A... fight. I don't know what kind. Something violent. And..." he sorted through images and emotions he'd experienced, and stumbled across one that was still almost blinding in intensity. "Grief. Horrible grief, like part of my soul was dead and the remaining half was forever singing in pain at the loss..." he stopped, because the words had not been his own. "A pyre. Someone's pyre."

Qui-Gon reopened his eyes and looked at the others. Mace looked stunned. For that matter, so did Yoda. Part of him mentally filed that away. Yoda did not look stunned very often. "What's happening to him?" he whispered. "What the hell is wrong with my Padawan?"

"Know we do not, Qui-Gon," Yoda answered him, looking at Obi-Wan. "React to you, he did not."

"And there was nothing in the Force from him either," Mace said grimly. "Whatever is happening to him, we'll have to wait for him to tell us."

And if he never wakes up, we'll never know. Qui-Gon closed his eyes, releasing the pain in his heart to the Force. "With your permission Masters, I'll try again." When Mace opened his mouth to protest, he held up one hand. "Later. And I won't try it alone." He didn't add that his head was pounding fiercely, and making another attempt right now would have been impossible for him anyway.

"Good," Mace said, crossing his arms. "You were trying to crack your own skull open on the floor, caught up in what you saw. Terza doesn't need another patient."

Qui-Gon smiled faintly. "I thought as much."

Yoda nodded slowly. "Yes. Again, you will attempt this." Almost as an afterthought, the Master spoke again. "Necessary, it may be."

Two days later he had been unable to reach Obi-Wan in any way, meeting the same silence he always had. Questioning others, he discovered that the silence was for him alone. Everyone else who tried to reach his Padawan came up against some sort of mental wall, usually an uncomfortable one. To Terza it felt like a buzzing sensation. Mace said he didn't feel anything, but it gave him a headache regardless. Master Poof had tried to reach Obi-Wan, and had gone away rubbing his head and muttering about knives stabbing him in the eyes.

Beyond his one vision, Qui-Gon had experienced none of these things. Yoda surmised it had something to do with the faith Obi-Wan had in his Master. He also surmised that Qui-Gon would be the only one to succeed in reaching the boy.

It made Qui-Gon all the more anxious to succeed.

Walking back into the room after a quick conference with Terza, he was instantly aware that something had changed. He cast all his senses out, searching hopefully for Obi-Wan's presence, but found nothing. Disappointed, he walked to the bed and then stopped, breath stilling in his chest.

There was a mark on Obi-Wan's upper left arm, standing out in stark red relief next to his pale skin. The redness was fading even as he watched, healing with unnatural speed. "Terza!" he yelled, even as he reached out to touch Obi-Wan's arm. He knew the injury instantly for what it was.

Lightsaber burn.

Terza was by his side at an instant. "Qui-Gon, what is -- what's that?" she said, reaching out and touching the healing burn. "Is that what I think it is?" When Qui-Gon nodded, she probed the healing wound with her fingers and the Force. "Force gods, Qui-Gon. I've never seen anything heal like that, not without help. Is he doing it?"

"Not consciously. He's still not here. But Terza, this is a lightsaber burn." He bit his lip unconsciously. The redness was gone completely, and only a jagged white scar remained. Like all old lightsaber scars, it was silk to the touch. "Nobody's been in here. This is... this is not possible."

Terza hesitated a moment, then pulled back the sheet covering Obi-Wan. "Look for more."

He paused. "Do what?"

The Healer looked at him with a mix of amusement and concern. "Look for more. Whatever is happening to him is affecting him at a physical level. Maybe we can get some idea of what's happening to him if this happens again. You know your Padawan's body, I've got access to his medical records. If something appears that wasn't here four days ago, we'll know it."

Within moments the two of them had methodically stripped the young man down to his under shorts, and Qui-Gon immediately found a second lightsaber burn scar. This one was on his right thigh, larger and messier than the one on his arm. There was a matching scar on the back of Obi-Wan's leg where the supposed lightsaber had pierced through. "Terza..."

"I see it," she said softly. She touched the scar almost reverently. "You said you saw a battle."

"Yes, but the burn on his arm only just appeared. I daresay this one is new, too. The texture matches." Forcing himself to impartiality, Qui-Gon began searching his student thoroughly. No more lightsaber burns were to be seen, but there were several other scars of varying types that Qui-Gon knew had not been there before.

"Qui-Gon..." Terza frowned, touching a scar that adorned one of the Padawan's ribs. "This boy looks like he's been living in a war zone. Whatever is going on inside his mind is not pretty."

He nodded, looking at the web of new scars that adorned Obi-Wan's left foot. He had no idea what kind of injury could have caused it. Tracing the web with one finger, he sent out a call to Yoda.

If Qui-Gon thought Yoda was stressed before, it paled in comparison to Yoda's reaction to Obi-Wan's mysterious burn scars. The ancient Master turned to Qui-Gon, serenity replaced by frantic concern. "Reach him you must, Qui-Gon. You must reach him completely, or lose him we might."

"Master?" Qui-Gon already held Obi-Wan's hand. "Why?"

Yoda glanced away, but not in avoidance. "Unsure, am I. Only know this. Reach him you must, and soon it must be. Or wake he will not."

Qui-Gon touched Obi-Wan's spiked hair, feather-caressing the soft red strands. "If I reach him, what do I tell him?"

"Whatever is happening to him, go along with it. Speak to him about it." Terza caressed Obi-Wan's arm briefly. "The best thing would be to insure that he knows you would welcome him back. Interfering with this... whatever this is, could do more harm than good."

He nodded. Yoda looked at him and spoke firmly. "Reach him. Quickly. Now."

Qui-Gon centered in the Force and went looking for Obi-Wan, diving deep into his student's mind before he realized the Force suggestion that had accompanied Yoda's words.

He wasn't sure what to expect, did not know if he could even gain his Padawan's attention if he found him. He certainly didn't expect to find himself in a room that was both simple and opulent. White-washed walls were hung with embroidered tapestries. Delicate paneled curtains were pulled back from large windows, and outside he could see gardens, carefully cultivated and beautiful. There were voices out in the hall, he could hear, even though the carved oak door was closed.

The room was a suite, he noticed, lacking only a kitchen to make it completely self-sufficient. On the bed sat the room's only occupant, staring out the window.

He was dressed as a Jedi, wearing tan tunics and leggings, with a simply designed lightsaber hanging from his belt. Copper-blonde hair hung to his shoulders, framing an angular but attractive face. The full beard was the same shade as his hair, and the color was a wonderful match for his blue-green eyes. The man was warrior-lean, resting in a careless slouch that spoke of comfort with his own body.

Beautiful, Qui-Gon thought. But that thought was lost as he looked more closely at the Jedi. There were lines on his face that spoke of weariness. Something had happened to this man, he thought, even as a breeze from the open window ruffled his hair. The sadness in his eyes was muted but real. There was a set to his jaw that told Qui-Gon this man did not smile often.

He took a step forward hesitantly, not sure if he should intrude. He was supposed to be looking for Obi-Wan, after all. But the Jedi must have sensed something, because he looked up. The soft cry that left the man's lips was heart wrenching. "Qui-Gon?"

Oh Force no, no, what happened to him to cause such pain! "Obi-Wan?"

The younger man barked out a dry sob. "I know I look rather different. But you... you look the same." There were tears glimmering in Obi-Wan's eyes. Now that Qui-Gon knew it was him, he could see the ghostly remains of the boy in the man before him. "Oh, Qui-Gon. I've made such a bloody mess of things. Can you ever forgive me?"

"Of course I can," he said, taking a step closer. He made a show of looking around. "Though the suite looks rather clean to me."

Obi-Wan stared blankly a moment, then laughed, and his laugh sounded rusty and ill-used. "I missed that. I missed you."

Qui-Gon swallowed, raising one hand to touch the long copper hair. "I promise you, Padawan. I have never left your side."

"I... I know. I mean, I thought..." Obi-Wan reached up and caught Qui-Gon's hand, holding it in both of his own. Those hands were warm and alive, and Qui-Gon felt his heart ache at the contact. "I hoped you would be with me, watching me muddle my way through this. But I was never sure. I never felt anything, never sensed... " he sighed, and smiled up at Qui-Gon. "I had almost given up, honestly. I didn't think I could bear it anymore."

Relief turned to alarm, and Qui-Gon struggled to hide it. He sat down on the bed next to Obi-Wan, looking worriedly into the man's changeable eyes. Part of him was trying to insist that it was impossible, that his Padawan was a child still. But he could not deny the very real man sitting before him. "Talk to me, Obi-Wan. Tell me what troubles you. I promise I am here to listen."

Obi-Wan smiled, his eyes drifting back towards the open window. "Oh, Qui-Gon. What doesn't trouble me?" he chuckled ruefully. "I've tried so hard to do what I promised you. I'm trying so damned hard --" he broke off and was silent for a moment.

Qui-Gon didn't dare ask what this promise was. Terza had warned him not to interfere. "It's all right, Obi-Wan. I know that you're doing your best. That's all I would ever ask from you."

"Am I doing my best though? I wonder." Obi-Wan sighed. "I'm afraid of him, Qui-Gon. I'm afraid of my own Padawan." He laughed again, this time bitterly. "What kind of Master fears his own student?"

"I suppose that would depend on the student as well as the Master," Qui-Gon replied, trying to hedge his way through this. And Obi-Wan was talking as if Qui-Gon was well-aware of the situation. He would have to be careful. "I have always trusted your insight, Obi-Wan. Are you right to fear him?"

"I don't know," Obi-Wan said, his grip on Qui-Gon's hand tightening. "Sometimes I look at him and can hardly believe we've been together so long. Eleven years. He'll take the Trials soon, and sometimes I'm so proud of him my heart could burst. He's made it, despite everything we've been through. He's absolutely head over heels in love with Padmé, and they feel so right together. They've already been married. They think I don't know, but it's hard to hide that sort of happiness. But sometimes..." Obi-Wan's voice dropped to a whisper. "Sometimes when he smiles, all I feel is cold. I feel like death is gripping my heart."

Qui-Gon suddenly felt an answering chill in his own heart. All of the signs were there, all of the signs that he had missed with Xanatos. Obi-Wan was seeing that which Qui-Gon had been blind to.

If this was a fever dream, it was frightfully real. "What does the Council think?"

Obi-Wan snorted. "The Council. I sometimes wonder if they're thinking at all. 'Whatever happens is the Will of the Force'. Right. I haven't believed that since I was seven years old."

Qui-Gon was torn between laughter and shock. Laughter at his Padawan's typical disdain for the common lament, and shock that the normally respectful young man would criticize the Council so openly. He found he hadn't the slightest idea what to say. "Obi-Wan..."

The younger man turned to him, blue-green eyes suddenly wistful. "Do you love me, Qui-Gon?"

Qui-Gon looked into those changeable eyes and smiled, reaching up to gently trace the lines on Obi-Wan's face. "Of course I do, Obi-Wan. You have always been the light that guides my heart."

Obi-Wan smiled, and for a moment the light that had burned in him so strongly as a child was back, turning his eyes to blue-green flame.

Qui-Gon heard the sound of someone approaching, and there was a knock on the door. "Master?" A man's voice, soft but deep.

He turned back to Obi-Wan and noticed with dismay that everything seemed to be fading. "Will you be all right?"

Obi-Wan nodded decisively. "Yes. If you love me..." the younger man drew in a deep breath. "Then I can face anything."

When Qui-Gon woke up, he was on the floor again. "You fell," Terza told him softly, when he raised his eyes to her questioningly. His head was pillowed in the Healer's lap, and the rest of him was sprawled out on the floor. His head was pounding in time with his heart, and Terza placed her fingers on his temples. Within moments the pounding faded, and he sighed in relief.

"Worked, it did." Qui-Gon turned his head, dazed to find that he had the strength to do little else. Yoda sat on the floor beside him, gimer stick laid across his lap. "Wait again, we must. Fine he will be."

"Yoda?" Qui-Gon asked, the words slurred. His tongue felt thick and heavy, immobile. For that matter, so did the rest of him. "He'll be... okay?"

Yoda nodded. "Wait, we must. But Obi-Wan will return to us." The diminutive being gave Qui-Gon an inscrutable glance. "Tell us what happened, you will."

Belatedly Qui-Gon realized that Mace was there, along with Yarael Poof and Depa Billaba. "Uhm. Wasn't like the last time," he said, too tired even for complete sentences. But Terza was not the Healer in charge of Obi-Wan's case for nothing, and a moment later he felt the woman send him a strong pulse of energy. This time he had enough strength to sit up, but leaned against Terza gratefully when she provided the support. Qui-Gon had a feeling he would be terribly dizzy if he tried anything else. "It was... I found him. But when I did I wasn't sure at first that it was him."

"What do you mean? Surely as his Master you can recognize your own Padawan," Poof interrupted him. Depa and Mace both glared at the other Council member, who subsided with a peaceful wave of his hands. Qui-Gon could have cheered, but it required too much energy.

"He was older. Much older." Qui-Gon closed his eyes. "I'd guess that he was in his thirties."

He definitely had everyone's attention now, if the abrupt silence was any indication. Mace let out a low whistle. "Ambitious, isn't he?"

"Explain, you will."

"That's what I'm trying to do," Qui-Gon opened his eyes, glaring at the others. "But you people keep interrupting me." He felt more than heard Terza's soft laugh.

"I'm sorry, Qui-Gon," Depa said, smiling gently. "Please tell us what you can."

"It was very vivid. It felt like... it felt like I was actually somewhere else. Definitely another planet, but I don't know which. I don't think I've ever been there before." Slowly he told them what had happened, his memory of the vision already beginning to fade. He could barely remember what had been said, and knew that he had forgotten things. It struck him as strange, but no matter how hard he concentrated, the strands of memory eluded him. Had he really told that elder version of his Padawan that he loved him? Qui-Gon shook his head.

By the time he finished talking, he was achingly tired. But if he closed his eyes, Qui-Gon suspected sleep would be a long time in coming.

"This person that Obi-Wan believed was his Padawan," Depa frowned. "Did you see him?"

Qui-Gon shook his head. "No. I lost the contact first... but I heard his voice. None of it felt like a hallucination, Masters. But I don't know what it was. All I know is... " he trailed off, uncertain. "Something terrible happened to him. He seemed so... lost." Even as he spoke the words, he remembered the overwhelming grief that he had touched on, and the image of the pyre. "Whatever it was, it's not making his situation any easier."

"Situation?" Yarael shook his head. "For all we know, the boy could be caught up in a strong series of Force visions. You did say that Kenobi was developing a gift for prescience."

"Masters, forgive me, but," Qui-Gon smiled slightly. "I doubt that even Master Yoda has ever had a vision of that clarity. It felt real. It felt exactly the same, talking to Obi-Wan, as it does while I sit here and talk to you now. I honestly could tell no difference."

No one found anything to say to that. Finally Yoda stirred, blinking his large eyes at Qui-Gon. "Nothing to do right now, there is. Sleep you will, Qui-Gon."

Qui-Gon had enough time to be annoyed at the troll for using a sleep compulsion on him before he drifted off.

Any thoughts Qui-Gon might have had about Obi-Wan waking after their contact vanished quickly, and two days later there was still no change. He was hard pressed to be patient. The memory of what he had experienced was fading, but enough remained to recall the soul-deep weariness in his Padawan's eyes.

It was a weariness he shared. Five days of sleeping only when someone forced him to, along with his state of heightened awareness as he kept watch over his Padawan, was telling on him. Dark circles had formed under his eyes, and his hands were beginning to shake no matter how hard he worked to control the tremors. Pacing the floor when the peace of meditation eluded him was cutting further into his reserves. He was surprised Terza hadn't drugged him yet.

It was the Healer who was standing in the doorway now, smiling at him. At least she hadn't caught him pacing. Qui-Gon stood up from his cross-legged position on the floor, stretching kinks out of his back. "Good morning."

"Morning, Qui-Gon." She handed him a cup of steaming liquid. "Caff. I know you prefer tea, but drink it anyway. You could use it."

He gave the dark liquid a dubious look, but took a sip. It was horrible, but his system seemed to soak up the stimulant like drought-parched soil soaked up rain. "Thank you."

She nodded. "When's the last time you had anything to eat?"

He hesitated. "I'm actually not sure."

The Healer snorted. "Your Padawan is going to have a field day with you when he wakes up, Qui-Gon. There's no need for both of you to suffer. In fact --" she paused, head tilted to one side curiously. Abruptly her demeanor changed into alarm, and she rushed for the bed just before the machines signaled an alarm of their own. Before Qui-Gon had time to realize what was happening, the tone of alarm changed as all of his Padawan's vital signs abruptly flat-lined.

"MOVE!" Terza roared, shoving Qui-Gon out of the way. In the morning he would wake to find bruises on his chest in a match to the Healer's hands. The smaller woman brought up one hand and then slammed it down on Obi-Wan's chest, over his heart, and he could feel the incredible amount of Force energy she brought into the contact.

Obi-Wan's body lurched, actually rising off of the bed as his heart was forced to beat, his lungs forced to breathe. Qui-Gon gently eased the shaking, adrenaline-shocked body back down onto the bed, automatically probing the young man's mind for signs of awareness. There was none, and eventually the electronic warbling quieted as Obi-Wan's life signs returned to normal.

Then Qui-Gon turned just in time to catch a slumping Terza, lowering the woman into a chair. The Healer's normally golden features were gray with exhaustion. "Thank you," he whispered, wrapping his arms around the woman's shuddering frame.

Terza's laugh was a whisper. "You're welcome. And thank you," she said, feeling as the Jedi Master began sending her what energy he could spare to make up for what she had just expended.

"That shouldn't have happened," he said, voicing the unspoken opinion.

Terza sighed deeply, curling up against the man's broad frame. Every time she used that particular talent, her body felt numb with cold. "No, it shouldn't have. And from the ease in which I brought his body back, I'd say it was a response to something mental."

When the mind dies, the body goes with it, Qui-Gon thought, and repressed a shudder. He immediately decided to take Obi-Wan's unchanged mental state as a positive sign. Anything else was unacceptable.

Gradually Terza pulled back, tucking her robes back into place. "Master Yoda had better be right."

It was Terza who ordered him to bed that night, and this time he went more or less agreeably, though the new scars on his Padawan's arms disturbed him greatly. After the events of the day, he could barely hold his eyes open even after calling on the Force for help. His dreams were hazy and jumbled, of life in a desert. A solitary existence was being led by a man who looked decades older than Qui-Gon himself, worn and faded. The Jedi tunics he wore were perfect for the desert heat, even though just the sight of them filled the man with echoes of an old pain.

Qui-Gon wrenched himself out of sleep, abandoning the isolation of the dream for the reality of Coruscant's night. He swung his legs over the side of his bed, irritated, as the last vestiges of sleep cleared from his mind. The dream felt like a Force vision, and it was the exact sort of thing that led him to avoid prescience in the first place. Vague warnings about a distant future weren't very helpful, and he didn't even know the Jedi he had seen.

He had been a Jedi Master long enough to realize that trying to go back to sleep would prove fruitless. He dressed in the dark, stopping by the door long enough to pull on his cloak before he made for the Healer's Ward.

Qui-Gon managed to dredge up enough emotion to feel surprise when he saw Mace Windu leaning against the wall outside Obi-Wan's room, obviously waiting for him. "Morning."

"Not a good morning?" Mace asked, raising one eyebrow at the abbreviated greeting.

Qui-Gon snorted. "I haven't made up my mind yet, and it's too early besides. What's your excuse?"

Mace smiled. "I'm here to check on Obi-Wan, same as you. We're all concerned about him," he added, when Qui-Gon looked surprised. "The two of you are shaping up to be one of the greatest teams we have."

"Protecting your investment?" Qui-Gon asked sardonically. No, he definitely wasn't at his best this morning.

"Among other things," Mace agreed cheerfully.

Privately rolling his eyes and muttering about Council manipulations, he palmed open the door and stepped inside. It actually took him a moment to realize that the bed was empty.

"Qui-Gon," Mace's voice was pitched so low he barely heard it. Standing in front of the window, wearing the rumpled loose pants and shirt of the Ward, was his Padawan.

Obi-Wan didn't seem to notice either of them, staring out the window with no little awe and wonder on his face. His eyes were wide in his gaunt face. One of his hands lifted to touch the window. Obi-Wan shuddered visibly as his hand pressed against the glass.

Qui-Gon was loathe to disturb him, even as relief and joy sang through every nerve in his body. "Obi-Wan?"

The response was startling. Obi-Wan whirled, the wonder on his face shifting abruptly to shock. He stared openly at Qui-Gon and Mace, looking for all the worlds like a cornered wild animal.

He took a hesitant step forward, leaving Mace to guard the door. "Padawan, are you all right?"

Taking two steps back, Obi-Wan pressed up against the wall and slid down it, kneeling on the floor. Shaking his head as if to clear it, he looked up at Qui-Gon. "I'm... I don't know. I'm trying to decide whether I'm in heaven or hell."

Mace joined him finally, apparently satisfied that Obi-Wan wasn't going to bolt mindlessly for the door. "What's the last thing you remember?"

"Being dead," Obi-Wan replied shortly, as if it wasn't important. Qui-Gon felt his breath catch in his throat, even as he heard Mace stifle a sharp exclamation.

"Well," Qui-Gon said, wishing rather desperately that Terza and Yoda were here. "You're not dead."

"I'm not?" Obi-Wan was staring out the window again, both of his hands clenched so tightly that his knuckles were white.

Mace's voice had a rumble of authority in it when he spoke. "Padawan Kenobi, do you recall your mission to Taro Tre?"

Obi-Wan glanced back in obvious surprise. "Of course I remember Taro Tre. Big ugly mess that we never should have been sent to in the first place. I took a slug to the head and spent a solid week... well, here," he said, waving his hand around distractedly.

He's speaking as if it happened years ago, not right now, Qui-Gon realized, chilled.

"And why did you call me, Padawan, it's been..." Obi-Wan trailed off as he realized both men were staring at him in stark amazement. His eyes grew even wider than before. With a strangled cry, Obi-Wan launched himself up. Qui-Gon made a half-hearted attempt to stop him from reaching the door before he realized that his Padawan had a different destination in mind.

Obi-Wan stumbled into the fresher, staring open-mouthed into the mirror above the sink. Qui-Gon watched, unable to move, as Obi-Wan carefully touched the healing scar on his head.

Shaking, Obi-Wan brushed the Padawan braid that trailed down to rest on his shoulder with his fingers. He swayed on his feet, and Qui-Gon rushed forward just as Obi-Wan's eyes rolled back in his head. The young man dropped like a stone.

Catching his Padawan in his arms before he could hit the floor, Qui-Gon heard Mace call for Terza. He sent out a tendril of thought, and sighed in relief as he touched Obi-Wan's mind. The silence that had pervaded Obi-Wan's mind for the past week was gone, replaced by an astonishingly ordered jumble of unconscious thoughts.

He brushed his hand through Obi-Wan's hair, not sure if he was trying to comfort the boy or himself.

When Obi-Wan awoke again, a few hours after dawn, he seemed much calmer. But he was also extraordinarily quiet, and seemed hesitant to speak no matter how hard Qui-Gon tried to draw him out. After several hours of this, while Obi-Wan stared pensively out the window, obviously brooding, Qui-Gon gave in and settled down to wait. He was a Jedi Master. He would be patient, and Obi-Wan would speak when he was ready.

Terza came in an hour later, and gave the young man an intense physical exam. Obi-Wan, normally shy in front of a Healer's scrutiny, barely seemed to notice.

Qui-Gon watched as Terza carefully documented the scars that covered the young man's body, including a new lightsaber burn on his chest. It was long, arcing from collarbone to navel, but barely visible. It did not have the looks of rough healing that the first burns had. When Terza gently pointed out the lightsaber burns, Obi-Wan shrugged. "They're nothing new," he murmured, focusing on Terza for the first time. "I know how they got there."

Terza smiled. "They're new for us, Padawan Kenobi. When you became my patient upon your return from Taro Tre, these scars did not exist. They appeared while you were unconscious. We were... very concerned."

"Hmm." Obi-Wan tilted his head consideringly, unconsciously fiddling with his Padawan braid with one hand. "That's interesting."

"You're as infuriating as your Master," Terza snorted.

Obi-Wan blinked, looking over at Qui-Gon. Slowly he smiled, the wry expression that Qui-Gon had come to associate with his Padawan's sense of humor. "I'll take that as the compliment it surely must be."

"Flattery will not let you escape an explanation, Padawan," Qui-Gon said, trying to sound stern and failing rather miserably. He was simply too happy to see Obi-Wan alive and conscious to pretend otherwise.

Obi-Wan nodded. "Of course. Healer Terza?"

Terza frowned. "I'd prefer to have an explanation for those scars, Padawan." When Obi-Wan merely looked at her, she shrugged. "Fine. Patient-Healer disclosure aside, I can't force you to tell me."

Obi-Wan inclined his head. "Thank you."

She shook her head, not liking his silence but accepting it. "There's no reason to keep you here any longer. Physically you're fine, but you're going to be prone to --"

"Dizziness from the head injury for a few days. Don't over-exert, mild exercises only, no lightsaber work of any kind, no holovids, and you'll give me a bacta gel to rub on the scar, morning and night, to finish the healing. Yes, I know." He took in Terza's flummoxed expression and grimaced. "Sorry."

"No, don't be sorry. That's what I was going to tell you." She continued to stare at Obi-Wan. "In fact, that's exactly what I was going to say, word for word."

He smiled sadly. "I know." He stood up, reaching for the clothes that Qui-Gon had brought from their quarters. He stared at the white tunics for a long moment before beginning to dress.

"You know." Terza repeated, rested her hands on her hips. "How did you know?"

"That," Obi-Wan muttered, almost to himself, "is a very long story." He stood up, fully dressed except for his boots, and faced Qui-Gon. "Qui-Gon... wait. That's not right. Master," he said, bowing slightly with his eyes closed, obviously fighting off the dizziness that Terza had warned him against. "I owe you an explanation. But I feel it is one that the Council should hear as well."

Qui-Gon realized he was staring at Obi-Wan. Who was this ultra-polite, refined, bewildering man that had replaced his exuberant Padawan?

Finally he nodded. "Very well. When?"

Obi-Wan offered him a wan smile. "Please. As soon as possible."

Mace Windu and Yoda exchanged glances as Qui-Gon walked into the Council chamber, followed by Obi-Wan. The young man stopped just inside the door for a long moment, looking around at the twelve Council members with an unidentifiable emotion on his face. While the Council had been informed of Obi-Wan's strange coma, and the flashes of experience Qui-Gon had picked up through tenuous contacts, none of them were quite sure what to make of the Padawan who stepped hesitantly up to Qui-Gon's side. If he noticed that he was technically breaking protocol by not standing just behind his Master, the young man paid it no heed. Neither did Qui-Gon care; the Padawan that had trailed him all the way to the Chambers was a vast change from the boy who had accompanied him to Taro Tre.

They both bowed to the Council, Obi-Wan swaying slightly as he stood up. Qui-Gon reached out to steady him, and Obi-Wan smiled gratefully. Another change; his Padawan would normally have been mortified to show weakness before the Council.

"Padawan Kenobi," Mace spoke, when the wave of dizziness had passed. "Your Master said that you wished to speak with us."

Obi-Wan nodded. "Yes, Masters," he said, his voice still holding the same soft inflection from the Healer's Ward. At first Qui-Gon had attributed it to the obvious disorientation Obi-Wan had awoken with, and to the subdued atmosphere of the Ward. Now he was not so sure.

"Then you experienced a vision you would like to share with us," Yarael said.

"I... No, Masters," Obi-Wan said, and Yarael looked surprised. Obviously he had not considered any other option. Obi-Wan looked at the floor for a long moment. "It was not a vision. At least, it is not like any vision I have ever experienced."

Saesee Tiin looked at Obi-Wan sharply. "And you have such great experience with visions, then, that you can decide this?"


Several eyes widened at the quiet confidence in Obi-Wan's voice. Depa leaned forward. "Your Master tells us that your prescience has only just begun to emerge. That hardly constitutes a lifetime's experience, Padawan."

He didn't answer her, and was quiet for a long moment. Finally he looked up at Mace. "You plan to send us to the Corellian system tomorrow to investigate pirate activity along the trade route. The Trade Federation claims to be losing thousands of credits in profit from the incursions, funds that the Republic will have to compensate them for."

Dead silence.

Qui-Gon looked around at the group of shocked faces, barely aware of the matching shock on his own face. "It's true, then?" When Mace nodded, the other man quickly regaining his composure, Qui-Gon turned to Obi-Wan.

The young man shrugged apologetically. "The Federation is lying, coincidentally. They're doctoring the ship's logs to show cargo was loaded that never even existed. Then their own ships, equipped with gravity wells, drag the cargo vessels out of hyperspace. The Captain reports that pirates board and take the cargo. Sitting out in deep space, there's no one to witness this. They're hoping to gain a great deal of money from this venture, and use the funds to solidify their standing in the Senate."

Adi Gallia absorbed this information, then turned to Mace. "I told you so."

Mace glared at her. "We have no way of knowing that this intuition is correct. A team will still have to be sent to evaluate the Trade Federation's claims."

"But not Master Jinn and Padawan Kenobi," Eeth Koth put in, surprising everyone. "If a second team can verify what Obi-Wan had told us, then we will know beyond a doubt that the boy's vision was correct."

The Council murmured quietly among themselves for a few minutes. Obi-Wan took to staring out the window, a newly developed habit that Qui-Gon found disturbing. His Padawan had never been given to such intense periods of reflection. The energy that had always effused the young man was muted now, hidden behind mental shields of amazing complexity.

Yoda, he noticed, was paying little attention to the rest of the Council, and instead was gazing intently at Obi-Wan. "Take you long it did, to discover this information?"

Obi-Wan nodded absently. "Yes, Master. Over a month. They covered their tracks well. We managed to put a halt to the false raids, but never came up with enough evidence to prove their guilt. Their power grew quickly, after that."

"Hmmm." Yoda rested one clawed hand on the arm of his chair. "A long time it has been for you. Yes," he said, when Obi-Wan looked up in surprise. "A long time."

Qui-Gon fought the urge to grit his teeth in annoyance. Obi-Wan knew what was going on, but wasn't talking. Yoda had a very good idea what was going on, but was being just as cryptic as ever. He met Mace's eyes and the other man shrugged. Qui-Gon felt a little better. At least he wasn't the only one at a loss.

But all of the Jedi training in the world couldn't stop the chill that went through him at Yoda's next question. "How long was this, Obi-Wan? How long were you gone?"

Obi-Wan paused, mindful of the gazes upon him. "Over forty years."

Qui-Gon decided patience was only meant to go so far. "Please, Obi-Wan. You're not making any sense."

"I know," Obi-Wan replied, smiling down at the floor. "But I am unsure how to explain something that I don't understand myself."

"Try," he said, tucking his hands into the sleeves of his robe. "I can't possibly be any more confused."

Obi-Wan looked up at him, then nodded. "I suppose not." He looked out the window, taking a deep breath as he visibly prepared himself to speak. The Council seemed to be holding its collective breath, patiently waiting for the young man to begin.

"Forty-one years ago I awoke in the Ward under Healer Terza's care, with a horrible headache and a healing slug wound to the head. Two days later Master Jinn and I journeyed to Corellia, as I just informed you."

"Excuse me?" Master Yaddle's eyes had gone wide. "You remember waking in the Healer's Ward... before?"

Obi-Wan nodded, the wry smile making a brief reappearance. "Yes. I know how it sounds, Masters." He turned to Qui-Gon, holding out his hand questioningly.

Qui-Gon hesitated, and then realized what it was that Obi-Wan was asking for. He unclipped the young man's lightsaber from his belt. It had spent so many days hanging next to his own that he had forgotten the extra weight at his side.

Obi-Wan took it, wrapping his hand around the hilt. "Not only was the Corellian mission long, it was not without its dangers. I spent most of the journey there asleep, as did my Master, since he had just spent a week neglecting his own health." Qui-Gon smiled slightly at the mild rebuke in his Padawan's words. "The result was that neither of us were as alert as we should have been. And a day after our investigation began, we were attacked. I ignited my lightsaber for the first time since Taro Tre, and it did me the honor of blowing up rather brilliantly in my hand." With that the young man held out his right hand, palm up, revealing a white crisscrossing of scars that marked his palm. "I was fortunate that these are the only scars I carry from the incident."

Qui-Gon was not the only one who was staring, his focus flickering back and forth between the scars and Obi-Wan's lightsaber, held in his left hand. "The power cell is fluctuating," he said finally. Now that his mind had been made aware of the problem, he could not believe he had missed the strong sense of danger radiating from the weapon. "I can't believe I didn't notice that."

"You said that then, too, along with a great smattering of words that I had no idea were in my Master's vocabulary." Obi-Wan grinned.

Adi Gallia motioned for Obi-Wan to come closer, allowing her to study the scars on his palm carefully. "Remarkable," she said, touching the messy patterns. "Damage from the casing?"

"Yes. We spent hours picking shrapnel out of my hand. Fairly unpleasant." Adi released Obi-Wan's hand, and he rejoined Qui-Gon in the center of the room. "As Master Yoda has already deduced, I lived... my entire life. It ... was disorienting, to say the least, to wake up. Here. Again." Obi-Wan pressed the heel of his head to his head, eyes closing. Shoulders bowed, he trembled visibly.

"Obi-Wan?" Depa leaned forward in concern. He gasped, flinging his head back, his throat working visibly as he tried vainly to draw in air. Qui-Gon immediately reached out, laying a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder.

"Breathe," he ordered gently, and Obi-Wan gradually complied, taking several harsh breaths. His eyes opened, and Qui-Gon was surprised to see tears forming. "It's all right, Obi-Wan. Relax," he soothed with his voice and a mild touch of the Force. It was the best he could do, with the training bond gone.

Obi-Wan blinked rapidly, then bowed his head. "Forgive me," he whispered harshly. "It has just been a long time."

"There is nothing to forgive, Obi-Wan," Mace said, his tone gentle. "Visions can often be stressful and traumatic."

"If it had just been a mere vision, I would be much happier," Obi-Wan replied dryly. "Those I can handle."

Qui-Gon remembered the emotions he had touched on in his attempts to connect to Obi-Wan. Opening eyes he did not realize he had closed, he looked at Obi-Wan and could indeed see the glimmerings of the man he would soon become. The auburn hair could very easily fade to copper-blonde, and had when they had been on long-term assignments on sunny planets. "He's telling the truth, you know," Qui-Gon said, and saw Mace and Depa nod in agreement. "Something terrible happened. I caught glimpses of... many things. Most of them made little sense, but the feel of them was unmistakable."

Obi-Wan's brow furrowed. "You tried to reach my mind while I was in the Ward, then?"

"Padawan, the entire Council tried to touch your mind. Your Master was the only one to manage any degree of success." Mace looked annoyed, as if it was a personal affront that a maverick Jedi had managed to do something the strength of the Council could not.

Obi-Wan crossed his arms and stared at the floor. Qui-Gon was slowly beginning to recognize the stance for what it was -- deep thought. "The training bond between us snapped at one point. I had thought that something happened to you, but you seemed fine."

"No," Obi-Wan shook his head slowly. "Nothing happened to me." He looked up, meeting Qui-Gon's gaze with pain-filled eyes.

With a realization that felt almost like a physical slap, he stepped back. "Me. Something happened to me." Obi-Wan continued to stare at him with haunted eyes. "I... died?"

Obi-Wan swallowed and nodded. "Yes. I did not... deal with it very well, I'm afraid. In fact, I didn't deal very well with a lot of things." He looked away, momentarily locking eyes with Yoda.

Then, finally, he seemed to settle, serenity and peace weaving through the young man's Force signature like a cloak. "Here is what I can tell you. I became a Knight at the age of twenty, after Qui -- after my Master recommended me for the Trials. They were not," he smiled tightly for a moment, "what I had expected them to be. It was not a planned event, but the Council felt that I had performed admirably enough for that event to supercede the normal Trials. I wish, honestly, that it had not been the case.

"I took a Padawan Learner the next day." At the Council's surprised rumble, he held up one hand. "I would not normally have done so. But I made a promise, and I intended to keep it. The boy needed to be trained, and no one else was willing. It was through no fault of his own." He smiled, more sadness than joy in it. "He was... he became one of my best friends. But... events conspired against us. Against all of us," his eyes, distant, regained their focus at that as he looked at the Council.

"A threat against the Jedi?" Yaddle quested, her green eyes worried. "What is this threat?"

Obi-Wan hesitated. "I could tell you, but you would not believe me. And as yet I am not certain that it will be necessary. Either way, things were... bad, for everyone, not just the Jedi. Many of us went into hiding."

Qui-Gon knew that Obi-Wan was not telling them everything, not by half. "Why can't you tell us?"

"Everything I ever learned about temporal physics screams at me to keep my mouth shut," Obi-Wan said, shrugging. "Theories or not, I feel they may be valid in this case."

"Why?" Yoda was twisting his gimer stick idly in his hands. "A temporal anomaly you feel this may be?"

"I'm not sure. It makes sense in some respects, but not in others. I cannot recall any case that would fit the profile. The scars on my body should not be there, as those events have not happened to me yet. But they exist." Obi-Wan's obvious familiarity with the subject was intriguing, especially as Qui-Gon knew that his Padawan was not scheduled to study temporal physics for another year. "It's simple, and yet it's not," Obi-Wan said, absently wrapping one hand around his braid. "If my experience was merely a possibility of the future, then giving you information on events that may not occur would be frustrating as well as pointless. While I've already encountered several instances of knowing things before I've been told --" Mace snorted at that, "--I'm not willing to let that influence my actions for the next decade."

"Fair enough," Mace said in agreement. "But what if your vision matches, exactly, every event that is to come for the next year?"

"But it hasn't," Obi-Wan countered, shaking his head. "Already there is a marked difference. If the Council's decision regarding the Trade Federation remains the same, my Master and I are no longer going to Corellia. That means that there will be an entire month that will not be as I experienced before." His lips quirked in a smile. "My knowledge and abilities have also undergone a rather significant upgrade, my Masters. I am not the same person I was before I awoke, before I went to Taro Tre."

"But it was merely a vision," Yarael protested. "It was not real."

"Real?" Obi-Wan turned and stared levelly at the Jedi Master. "Who are we to decide what is real?" He shook his head. "We are taught from the creche onward that our focus determines our reality. The very nature of that statement implies that there are many different meanings within our lives. Our focus is always changing. When we look at the world through our eyes, we see one reality. When we look at the world through the Force, what we see can be quite different. So yes, what I experienced was real. Even if I didn't retain physical scars as proof of the experience, I know," he continued, tapping his temple with his finger, "that in the ways it truly matters, there was no difference."

Qui-Gon couldn't help the expression of fierce pride that appeared on his face as he watched his Padawan verbally flay the senior Master. But Yarael was not willing to concede the point so easily. "Padawan Kenobi--"

"Enough," Yoda said sharply, interrupting the other. "Argue for years we could, on this question. Unnecessary, it is." With that he slid out of his chair, approaching Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan settled down to rest on his knees as the tiny Master approached. Yoda smiled at him, reaching out to rest his hand on Obi-Wan's arm. The young man smiled back, meeting Yoda's eyes with warmth and a tiny hint of amusement that Qui-Gon did not know how to interpret. "Hmmm," Yoda hummed softly, searching Obi-Wan's face. The Force coalesced around them, a beautiful configuration that made no sense but took Qui-Gon's breath away nonetheless.

Whatever it was he was looking for, Yoda seemed satisfied. "Right, he is," Yoda announced. "No more should Obi-Wan tell us. But discuss his future, we must."

Qui-Gon felt himself pale. That sort of statement from Yoda usually held serious consequences. "Master Yoda --"

Yoda immediately smacked him in the shin with his gimer stick. "Calm yourself, Master Qui-Gon. Mean to worry you, I did not. Your Padawan Obi-Wan is, and discuss our decision with you we shall. But rest the both of you need."

It was a dismissal if Qui-Gon had ever heard one. "You're right." Obi-Wan carefully stood up, catching himself on Qui-Gon's offered arm when he would have stumbled.

"Still bloody dizzy," Obi-Wan muttered, loud enough only for Qui-Gon and Yoda to hear. "Thank you, Master."

"You're welcome, Padawan," Qui-Gon replied, even as Obi-Wan recovered his equilibrium. "Better?"

Obi-Wan nodded, and they both bowed to the Council.

Mace was rubbing his temples with his fingers as he regarded the two of them. "We'll contact you tomorrow after we've discussed this."

"Wait," Depa raised her hand. "May I ask you one more thing, Padawan Kenobi?"

Obi-Wan inclined his head briefly. "If I can answer you, I will, Master Billaba."

She smiled. "Fair enough. Healer Terza says that while you were in her case, several lightsaber burn scars appeared on your body. How did you get them?"

He did not smile back. "You do not ask the easy questions, Master. I received them in two different lightsaber battles. I almost lost both of them."

"Who were you fighting?" Qui-Gon heard himself ask. Stupid of him, but his own inborn curiosity could not allow the question to go unasked.

Obi-Wan's jaw tensed, his eyes glittering with some unnamed emotion. "Old friends."

Late that night Qui-Gon lay awake in bed, staring up at the ceiling. His room was illuminated by the glow of a single candle, the remains of an attempt at meditation that had failed miserably. He was continually turning over the events of the past week over in his mind, trying to come to terms with the powerful experience his Padawan had gone through. Unlike the Council, he had no doubts about the authenticity of Obi-Wan's vision. The few moments that he had spent in that other life, offering comfort to a lonely man, was all the proof he needed.

His problem lay in the fact that the young man who had shared his life these past three years was now virtually a stranger. They had managed to put a light meal together, Qui-Gon helping more than usual when Obi-Wan had shyly announced that he couldn't remember where everything was stored. Dinner had passed almost in silence until Qui-Gon, in desperation, had began a discussion on temporal mechanics that caught Obi-Wan's attention immediately. Changed or not, his fascination with logic and the sciences remained constant, and they had delved into a lively debate on the popular theories the Temple Masters taught. But after dinner was finished and a stalemate reached on the debate after they realized they both agreed with one particular theory, silence had descended once more.

Obi-Wan had wandered out onto the balcony, settling down on his knees and drifting off into meditation. Qui-Gon had watched him for a while, absently soaking in the young man's altered Force aura until he had refamiliarized himself to it. Not as good as a training bond, but it would allow Qui-Gon to keep track of him. After several half-hearted attempts at reading, he had given up and gone to seek his own meditation.

Which left him as he was now, struck with insomnia in the middle of Coruscant's night cycle. Sighing he got up, dressing and clipping his lightsaber to his belt. There was bound to be an empty training salle at this time of night. Working himself into exhaustion was bound to be better than turning the same bewildered thoughts over and over in his mind.

He exited his bedroom and stopped, surprised to find Obi-Wan still awake. He was seated at the kitchen table, with parts from his half-dismantled lightsaber spread out before him. "Padawan?"

Obi-Wan looked up, mildly startled. "Sorry, Qu-- Master. I couldn't sleep."

"Neither could I," Qui-Gon said, walking forward and stopping, his instincts as a teacher warring with the new knowledge that Obi-Wan was probably well-aware of what he was doing. Obi-Wan's lips quirked up in a smile and he waved his hand in invitation.

Qui-Gon shook his head at himself and sat down at the table. "How is it?"

Obi-Wan pursed his lips, holding up the old power cell. "I must have damaged it on Taro Tre, but I can't remember how. I managed to wheedle an X-T Twenty-Nine out of Master Callero a few hours ago, though. Of course, that means I had to replace other things, as well."

"An X-T?" Qui-Gon frowned. The X-T series had a much stronger power-rating than the power cell Obi-Wan's lightsaber normally used. "Those are meant for multi-crystal blades. Yours is a single."

"I know," Obi-Wan said, popping the new power cell into place. "I've got the rest of the replacement parts installed already, so as soon as I place the new brackets, I can do something about that." He frowned as he picked up a tiny spanner, delicately adjusting the placement of a bracket before sealing it into place.

"Did you wheedle a new set of focusing crystals out of Master Callero as well?" Qui-Gon asked. Padawans were not allowed access to lightsaber crystals without their Masters. If Callero had given his Padawan access, then, vision or no vision, he was going to have to have a serious talk with the other Master.

Obi-Wan looked up in surprise. "Of course not. The one I have will do just fine." He bent back to what he was doing before Qui-Gon had a chance to say anything else. Instead he settled for watching Obi-Wan work.

Mild disbelief quickly turned to respect, for his Padawan was rebuilding his lightsaber with the deft skill and Force touch of an accomplished Knight. Finally Obi-Wan carefully placed aside all of the parts that were still functional, to return to Callero later. Those that were damaged or worn he disposed of, and at last turned his attention to his focusing crystal.

Obi-Wan picked up the Illumin sapphire in his hand, turning it this way and that as he inspected the crystal from every angle. The Force was flowing around him, a strong part of his inspection. "I wasn't wrong," he murmured to himself, then laid the crystal down on the table. He touched the crystal with one finger, and Qui-Gon jumped as a shard of the crystal broke off with an audible crack.


Obi-Wan looked up to find Qui-Gon staring at him. "What is it?"

Qui-Gon picked up the crystal shard, examining the perfect edge. "That was..." he swallowed. "That was incredible. Obi-Wan, I can't even do that."

"No?" Obi-Wan looked stunned. "I had thought you one of the most likely to do so."

"Your confidence in me is flattering," Qui-Gon shook his head. It was flattering. "How did you do that?"

"I just... I asked it to. I wouldn't if it wasn't a good idea, but this sapphire has the strength to be cut that way without developing flaws." Obi-Wan was blushing. "I didn't mean to show off. It's just better than using a cutting tool. And in the past, I've not had the option of having a tool handy to re-shape a crystal."

"Don't be embarrassed," Qui-Gon chided him gently. "I was just surprised, is all, and highly impressed. And I would be honored if you would show me how."

Obi-Wan nodded immediately. "Of course. Give me your hand," he said, holding out his own. Qui-Gon complied, and felt a mild jolt as their hands touched. Obi-Wan didn't seem to notice. He dismissed it as leftover resonance from working with the Illum, and returned his attention to the matter at hand.

Obi-Wan placed his hand over top of Qui-Gon's, guiding the other's fingertips down to touch the larger crystal. Qui-Gon opened himself to the Force, feeling the energy flow through their joined hands and down into the crystal. The Illum seemed to speak to him, whispering in his mind of possible paths for the break to take. Was it his imagination, or did the crystal appear to welcome the break? The Living Force seemed to agree with that thought. No matter how many times it was cut, the crystal would always be part of a greater whole.

There was a tingling sensation in his finger, and an answering vibration from the crystal, and he gasped as the stone split neatly in two.

He looked up. Obi-Wan was grinning at him, and he realized belatedly that he was grinning as well. "So all of my lectures on the Living Force paid off, did they?"

"You might say that," Obi-Wan replied, eyes dancing.

Qui-Gon rubbed the tips of his fingers, which were still tingling. "Incredible," he murmured, watching as Obi-Wan quickly yet carefully placed the three crystals into their appropriate brackets. He must have been working with the Force to adjust the crystals properly, for the confined space did not allow room for even the smallest tools. With a final, satisfied sigh, Obi-Wan sealed up the casing and held out his completed lightsaber for review.

He didn't even have to touch the hilt to feel the sense of rightness and balance the lightsaber emanated. To a Force-user, it was a work of art. "Try it."

Obi-Wan stood up, adjusted his grip on the hilt, and ignited the lightsaber. Immediately the pale blue blade emerged, humming with the carefully modulated strength of a multi-crystal blade. He made several passes through the air, eyes narrowed in concentration. "Not bad," he said finally.

"I'll admit, I didn't expect you to build a lightsaber like this until after you were Knighted," Qui-Gon said, feeling a twinge of remorse when Obi-Wan extinguished the blade.

"Actually, I didn't build a lightsaber like this until I was in my thirties, when I lost my third lightsaber." Obi-Wan clipped the newly-rebuilt lightsaber to his belt.

Qui-Gon hesitated for a moment. Obi-Wan had offered the information casually, but had tensed afterward as if afraid to say more. "Third lightsaber? I'm guessing that your first loss was Corellia." Obi-Wan nodded. "What about the other two?"

"Uhm." Obi-Wan ran a hand through his hair. "The second lightsaber I lost to a melting pit. I was a Knight, but when it came time to rebuild my lightsaber, my heart wasn't really in it. The third time I lost my 'saber... well." He frowned. "Let's just say that building a more powerful lightsaber became a necessity."

He could think of nothing to say to that. "Would you like to try it out?"

Obi-Wan raised one eyebrow. "I thought I just did?"

Qui-Gon rolled his eyes, to Obi-Wan's obvious delight. "Sparring, my Padawan. I had planned to do so anyway, hoping that working off some energy would allow me to sleep." Then he stopped, realizing his mistake. "I'm sorry," he said, mentally kicking himself for the lapse. "I had forgotten what Terza said."

Obi-Wan shrugged. "No, it's okay. Terza doesn't know that I can heal as well as I do."

Qui-Gon blinked. "Heal?"

Obi-Wan pointed to his temple, and Qui-Gon was startled to realize that no trace of the slug's impact remained. "I hadn't even noticed," he admitted, even as he added 'advanced Force healing' to his growing list of Obi-Wan's new skills. He was not so bad at Force-healing himself, but usually saved his efforts for when no actual Healers were present. "No dizziness?"

"I wouldn't have been able to work with the crystal like that if my head was spinning," Obi-Wan said, shrugging again. "I'm fine, and I promise to say something if it starts to bother me."

"Well." Qui-Gon laughed as Obi-Wan gave him a challenging smile. "Let's go, then."

They found an empty practice room easily enough. Even with the eclectic mix of species found in the Temple, there were few members who were truly nocturnal. He watched Obi-Wan perform a series of warm-ups while running through his own. There were changes here, too; some routines had been altered, and there were new ones mixed in. It was being hammered in firmly that Obi-Wan had the skills and strength of personality to be a Knight in his own right, for all that he was only sixteen.

But then Obi-Wan turned those blue-green eyes on him, and he had to change that thought. The personality behind those eyes was much, much older.

They bowed and faced off, and Qui-Gon signaled the beginning of the fifth kata. Obi-Wan fell into the opening moves of the kata easily, but after a moment seemed to catch himself in the midst of a maneuver.

Qui-Gon watched but said nothing, even as he worried. The fifth kata was one of their favorites to perform together, and Obi-Wan had managed it perfectly since he was fourteen years old.

After Obi-Wan stumbled for a fifth time, he cursed and stepped back. "Wait," he said, shaking his head. "This isn't working."

"I had noticed," Qui-Gon replied, lowering his blade. "Dizzy?"

"No," Obi-Wan said, glaring at the floor. It seemed to be a variation of his contemplative stance. It was maddeningly endearing, even though his Padawan looked at the floor as if he could burn holes through it with his eyes. Suddenly he burst out laughing. "I'm an idiot!"

"I could argue with that."

Obi-Wan grinned. "Could but won't?" He sighed. "This is embarrassing, but..."

Qui-Gon frowned. If Obi-Wan had developed some sort of mental hindrance with sparring from his vision, they were going to have to work through it. "But what?"

Obi-Wan waved one hand over his head. "I'm used to being taller."

The Jedi Master stared at him for a long moment, incredulous, before they both burst out laughing.

Qui-Gon wiped his eyes, only now realizing how tense he had been. "How much taller?"

"Just a bit more," Obi-Wan said. "I'm doomed to be much shorter than you, never fear."

Qui-Gon snorted. "Never fear? Obi-Wan, you're not the one that has to duck through the doorways on most transports."

Obi-Wan laughed again. "True. But it appears as if I'm going to have to finish growing up all over again." He seemed more amused than aggrieved by the thought. Obi-Wan closed down his lightsaber, handing it to Qui-Gon. "Let me try something. I still want to spar, but I'm going to have to find my balance again first."

"Take your time," Qui-Gon said, leaving the arena floor to sit on a nearby bench. "At the rate we're going, we have all night."

Obi-Wan nodded absently, already centering himself into an open position that he recognized as a form of unarmed combat. Then the young man sent himself through a series of moves that were much more complicated than the warm-ups or the kata. Qui-Gon thought it odd to start out with such an advanced workout, but it seemed to be helping Obi-Wan. Gradually the movements began to smooth out, starting to flow as his Padawan launched into a series of leaps and kicks that was almost Mistral in technique.

He was sweating when he sat down on the bench next to Qui-Gon, breathing deeply. "Not normally benched after something so simple," he said, dropping his head back and closing his eyes. "But since I just spent a week in bed, I suppose I'll have to forgive myself."

This time when they went through the fifth kata, it was as though nothing had changed. Bodies and minds in tune with the Force, they completed the exercise flawlessly. Qui-Gon grinned his approval when Obi-Wan silently signaled for an open spar, and the two of them danced across the room, neither of them gaining ground on the other.

He found another change almost immediately; the aerials that Obi-Wan preferred were almost non-existent. He was now grace and fire, his style grounded in techniques that would be best suited to true combat against a lightsaber, instead of the dance of a kata. Qui-Gon frowned slightly and began using his greater body-strength against Obi-Wan, wanting to see how the young man would compensate.

As their lightsabers clashed together, Obi-Wan's eyes widened slightly as he felt the strength of the blow. He twisted away, curving around in a fluid arc to deliver a strike to Qui-Gon's unprotected side. He whirled, almost not catching the blade in time. Obi-Wan gave him an innocent smile.

"That smile hasn't fooled me since you were thirteen, Obi-Wan," he muttered, parrying the swift, sweeping blows Obi-Wan dealt him.

"Of course not, Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan's smile grew. Then he launched himself into the air, flipping over Qui-Gon.

Qui-Gon thrust his saber back over his shoulder, catching Obi-Wan's lightsaber on his blade and feeling his muscles cry out in protest at the unusual position. He batted the other away and turned, both of them launching into a rapid exchange of blows that sent them from one end of the training salle to the other.

Finally he stepped back, lowering his blade and holding up one hand. "That's enough of that," he said, breathing deeply as he rested his hands on his knees.

"Oh good," Obi-Wan replied, sinking to his knees on the floor and wiping rivulets of sweat off of his face. "I think I could sleep for a week now."

"Oh no you don't," Qui-Gon retorted. "You only get to sleep for a week once a year. You've already surpassed your limit, Padawan."

He laughed and nodded, clipping his lightsaber to his belt. "For the rest of the night, then."

Slowly Qui-Gon straightened up, taking in Obi-Wan's relaxed expression. It was the first time he'd been truly at ease since waking in the Healer's Ward. "That I will agree to, Obi-Wan."

Go to part 2