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What to do when your Padawan tells you he loves you by alyse [Reviews - 13]
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Category: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Rating: G
Genres: Romance
Warnings: None

Summary: Qui-Gon reflects on past events and hopes for the future. Told in the first person.





There is a question that I've been worrying at for months. Whenever my mind grows tired at the end of the day, or I pause to catch my breath after a difficult bout of training. When I meditate. When I eat, and I look up from the table to catch his eyes on me briefly before he returns to his own meal. When I try to sleep, as elusive as sleep has been lately, and I find myself staring at the ceiling instead, listening to his calm breathing from the other bunk. A question I have been turning over and over in my mind. What to do when your Padawan tells you he loves you?

I still remember it vividly. How could I not? I'd been a little concerned about him for a while - he seemed to have withdrawn from me slightly. Perhaps most masters wouldn't have noticed, but I did. My memories of Xanatos haunted me. Obi-Wan's shields had strengthened with each passing year and while I had read the boy with ease, the man was almost an enigma to me, much as my last apprentice. But I held my tongue, tried to tell myself it was only his increasing maturity that lead him to this need to put some distance between us, and that if anything were truly bothering him that he would come and discuss it with me. I left my door open as it were, and waited, hoping that along with the Jedi code I'd instilled him with, I'd instilled some trust of me.

I was not wrong. Some six months ago we'd taken some time for ourselves once a particularly difficult diplomatic mission was over, and concentrated on his training. It had been two months of tense negotiating, and although he hid it very well, I could still sense Obi-Wan's impatience. He's a man of action, my Padawan, and while he can negotiate with the best of them, there are times when I can almost see his muscles twitch with the need to be in motion.

It was a well deserved break for both of us, and I can still remember the pride with which I watched him as he leapt and twisted in a deadly and beautiful dance, his lightsaber flashing, as he completed the kata I had set him with ease. A kata normally only attempted by knights. I knew that he would be ready soon. While his grasp of the living Force could occasionally be erratic, his skill with a blade sometimes, although rarely, surpassed my own and I am acknowledged one of the most skilled knights in battle currently in our order. In a few years, if he continues to improve and I continue to slow down, I think I will find him defeating me more often than not. And then there is the fact that he defeated the Sith when I could not.

That was a dark time for both of us and I force myself in the here and now not to dwell on it. It is past, and any lingering fear and anger I have I release to the Force. Instead my thoughts return to that day, the day I told him he would soon be a knight and the day that he told me he loved me.

I remember smiling indulgently as he skidded to a stop in front of me, his chest heaving with exertion and his eyes shining with the joy he always feels in exercise. And I told him, knowing my own eyes were shining with a pride I could not deny him, that he would take his trials before the year was out. It was only late winter then, but what is time to a Jedi? He'd been training for this for more than a score of years, first in the Academy and then as my Padawan, so ten months, maybe less, was nothing. His eyes brightened even further, and I could sense his bubbling joy and relief through the Force. And then, almost before I'd had a chance to secretly enjoy his emotion, it was quenched, and he was shielded as tightly as ever. Only his eyes showed anything. They darkened with something I didn't recognise, and fear coiled in my stomach. Fear and remembrance of Xanatos. Xanatos had also been this close to his trials before I realised what the Council had known for months - that my former apprentice was already flirting with the Dark Side. Was I also to lose Obi-Wan to the Dark? I didn't think that I could bear it - not my laughing and joyous Obi-Wan.

I remember fighting down the fear, and replacing it with acceptance. I decided that whatever demon it was that Obi-Wan was battling with I would let him make his own choices, just as I had with Xanatos, and pray that he'd chose better.

I acknowledged his request for time to meditate with as much calm as I could muster, and while he reflected on the changes in store for him, I did some meditation of my own.

It was evening when he roused himself from his meditative state, and came to kneel before me. I'd ended my own meditation hours earlier, and was busy preparing a light meal - normally a task attended to by my Padawan. I paused, and acknowledged him with a gentle touch on his shoulder. He raised his head, and for a long moment those sea-green eyes searched my face before he spoke.

His voice was grave and calm as he told me that he'd been aware of my concern at his distance from me, and he was sorry for any grief that he had caused me. He told me that he was proud to have been chosen as my apprentice all those years ago on Bandomeer, that he would not exchange one day of our time together for anything. His voice remained calm as he told me that he would do his best to live up to my teachings, and to make me proud of him. I was touched. And then he told me the reason for his distance, his voice still calm. He told me he loved me, not as an apprentice loves his Master, but as one man loves another, and that he had not wanted me to read anything inappropriate from him.

Inappropriate! My mind buzzed with a thousand questions. The one I asked myself was how was it I hadn't known? Oh, I'd been aware of the crush he'd had on me when he was in his teens, but that was almost normal. 'Expected it is, for a Padawan to desire their Master,' as Master Yoda is fond of saying, although I can say with certainty I felt no such desire for mine. When your hormones are leaping around the place you tend to focus your attentions on the one constant in your life - your Master. But since then, I'd had no inkling of anything besides affection. He'd obviously grown very good at shielding - or my mind was slipping.

The question I finally asked him was, "Why now?"

His answer, when he gave it, was calm and considered. He'd sensed my disquiet over his withdrawal and sought to ease it. The fact that I believed that he was close to his trials had given him the opportunity, and meditation had told him that it was right to tell me. He told me gently that he didn't expect me to do anything about it, as he was well aware that such relationships between Padawans and Masters, while not forbidden, are strongly discouraged. And then he rose gracefully to his feet and plucked the spoon out of my suddenly nerveless fingers, turning his attention to the bubbling pot I was ignoring.

I watched him for a moment, my eyes following the clean, lithe lines of his form, before I abruptly recalled myself. "Why now?" I repeated. "Why not wait until you passed your trials and could approach me as one knight to another?"

The corner of his mouth, I remember, quirked upwards in that half smile that usually puts me on guard for some planned mischief. "I thought you might appreciate some time to get used to the idea, Master," he replied smoothly.

There are times when I could cheerfully throttle my Padawan, Jedi training be damned. And that was definitely one of those times.

We haven't spoken of it since, not because I sought to avoid the issue but because once he'd placed the problem firmly in my hands he seemed content to let things be until his trials, and I honoured his wishes. I didn't avoid the issue. I don't avoid issues. Really, I don't.

I avoided this one like the plague.

It wasn't that his declaration didn't spark some interest in me. Perhaps I'm an old fool, but who wouldn't be flattered when a boy half his age tells him they love him, especially one as beautiful as my Padawan. If there had been no interest, there would have been no sleepless nights. I would have prepared the words with which I would explain to him that what he wished for could never be, let him down as gently as I could as soon as I could and hoped that in time his attention would settle on someone closer to his own age. No, my indecision stemmed from the fact that he stirred something in me that night, although in my more brutally honest moments I'll admit to myself that it stirred before and was ruthlessly quashed. Expected it is for a Padawan to desire their Master, but no one in their sane mind expects the Master to desire back. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I've gone insane. That's it - after years of driving me to distraction with one exploit after another he's finally driven me mad. All I have to do now is persuade the Council that I'm quite crazy and find a nice small padded cell in which to spend the remainder of my days. It shouldn't be too hard - after the mess with Anakin I think they're already half convinced that I am indeed out of my mind.

Anakin. There's another problem my mind keeps shying away from. Four months after that night that I told the Council that my Padawan was ready for the trials, and I didn't need our bond to tell me that my Padawan is more than half convinced that my haste was due to the boy. Perhaps it was. Perhaps it wasn't. Even now I'm not sure. And there wasn't time to discuss it before the Sith was upon us.

He fought well that day, my Padawan, better than I did for I fell and he did not. And although my impressions of what happened after the Sith's blade slid into me, turning my insides to fire, are vague a few things stand out - my Padawan's scream as I fell, the pulse of the Sith's death through the Force, and my Padawan pulling me back. And strangely enough given all that happened that day, it's the last that gives me nightmares.

I remember it clearly, etched as it is in my mind despite my best efforts to forget. The desperation he felt as he entangled his life-force with mine, ignoring my pleas for him not to. The fear and the rage in him as he fought to tie me firmly to this plane of existence. The grief, oh the pulse of grief through him, an almost living thing, sinking its claws into him. I could feel the Dark Side then, floating at the edges of his consciousness, gibbering, demanding entrance, demanding acknowledgement. Demanding submission. Too high a price to pay, my Padawan, I told him, the breath tearing its way out of my tortured lungs. You're too high a price to pay for me.

He didn't listen. But he didn't turn, and for that I would gladly have died twice over.

I'm not sure I'll ever know just how close he came. Perhaps my pleas held him anchored in the light. Perhaps it was his own strength. Perhaps it was the love he bears me. It's a mystery, one of many. Like how he saved me. Not even Yoda understands how he did it - none of the Council do, and I think that worries them - worry because of course fear is not permissible. All that is known is that somehow he kept me tied to him, and somehow he used to Force to heal the worst of the damage - not completely by any stretch, but enough so that what was a mortal wound merely became a life threatening one.

Merely. I snort as I remember. I spent nearly a month in a bacta tank while the Jedi healers tried to repair that wound. And my Obi-Wan spent almost that long under the care of the healers too. Exhaustion they called it. What they meant was that he'd given so much of his energy, his life-force to heal me that he barely had enough left to keep his own heart beating. A month I spent in the bacta tank, and a month he spent on his back, being poked and prodded and cosseted and studied. He hated every second of it I'm sure of it, but he endured it like the good little Jedi Padawan he is.

Was, not is. The day I've been equally anticipating and dreading is upon us. He's taking his trials right now and by the end of the day he should be my Padawan no longer, but a Knight in his own right, which is forcing the issue a little. The time for prevaricating is over, and I can't help but wondering if I've left it too long, if it's too late.

He is shielded from me now, as tradition demands. It should seem very strange not to feel the touch of his mind against mine, but unfortunately it's a feeling I've grown used to over the last few weeks. In fact, ever since I came out of that accursed bacta tank. I should have spoken to him then, but something in his face when he finally came to see me stopped me. There was a distance between us that has never been there before, a distance I created. He was shielded from me even then. The last time I felt the brush of his mind against mine was before they put me in.

Throughout the journey to Coruscant, he held onto me. He kept my heart beating, my remaining lung working. No matter how much the Nabooian healers claim the success as theirs, I know different. And throughout that time his mind touched mine, a constant presence in the darkness that still occasionally tried to claim me. My Padawan became my anchor to this life, and at a high cost, both to his health and to my peace of mind. As linked as we were, he could not hide his pain from me, and what I have found hardest to bear since is the depth of that pain. Not just from the wounds I inflicted in the Council Chamber, although they were the freshest and still raw, but the countless small injuries I have inflicted unknowingly over the years, building on the pain I first inflicted on Bandomeer. Insecurities building on insecurities, rejection upon rejection. I suppose that it is an indication of my Padawan's inner strength that he overcame all of this and found the courage to tell me how he felt, even if he didn't know how I'd respond. And it was the depth of the love he bears me that astounded and humbled me most of all. No matter how many times someone tells you they love you, it can never match feeling that love surround you, warming you, holding you to life.

While I have attempted to make amends for my first rejections of him, building his self-esteem as best I could and helping to make him the mature and confident man he is... was, I undid a lot of that by rejecting him for a child I barely knew. Anakin is, indeed, special, the 'Chosen One'. I cannot deny that, not when the rightness of it sings through the Force to me. Why it does not sing to others, like the Council or my Padawan, I cannot say. Perhaps it is because I am supposed to train him, and no other, although I must be wary of the pride inherent in that idea. It is meant, I am sure of it. Meant that I found him. He will be a joy to train, I'm sure - entrancing and irritating in equal measure - like every Padawan before him, and every Padawan who comes after. But... but... he will not be my Obi-Wan.

Master Windu has entered, while I have been lost in this muse. He stands there watching me, as impassive as always, and catching his eye I wonder if I have always seemed so impassive to my Padawan, if that was why he waited so long to tell me his heart, and if I could not tell him mine because I needed to maintain that pose of serenity. He gestures for me to follow him, although I know where we are bound. To the Council Chamber where I will find out if I have lost my current Padawan to knighthood, and whether I am to gain a new one. And then... and then?

And now I have the answer to my question, so simple I don't know whether to laugh or weep.

What do you do when your Padawan tells you he loves you?

Tell him you love him back.

The End






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