The story takes place approximately 5 years after the "Phantom Menace" and "Jedi Counsel".
Please note: italics indicates Yoda's train of thought, so to separate it better from Obi-Wan's which comes as kind of indirect speech...
NIGHT FALLS ON THE MORNING
or JEDI COUNSEL Part 2)
(c) JEL 1999
It had been another painful session with Master Yoda. Like so many others before. Obi-Wan slumped down on his bed. He didn't sigh. There was no breath left. He sensed Anakin's presence in the adjoining room. The little boy...Sith, he was a teenager now, almost a man...he ought to have been given "the talk" by now... Well, in a way he had done it. He had explained sex and love and relationships to his Padawan. Though he had never touched upon the subject of his teacher, his mentor and lover. Qui-Gon's name had hung unspoken between them. Anakin had understood, felt the meaning. He was sure of that.
The boy, the boy, always the boy it is. Worry too much he does. Exhaust himself he will. Not listen he does. Painful his presence is. Neglect his own well-being he does. Mindful he is only of his promise. Do something I must. Meditate I will. A solution there must be. If there is not, find one I must...
Anakin should not be his concern right now. The boy...teen...oh whatever...Sith...now he would be cursing himself and a dozen others who had nothing to do with the whole thing in every language he knew -and some of those he didn't... Travelling with his Master he had learned more than just the skills of a Jedi... Damn it. Now there he was again. It wouldn't do to be preoccupied.
He had worked so hard. He had learned. Yoda had taught him with endless patience, devoting so much time to him. And all this effort was simply wasted on him. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight. He doubted he'd ever be a Master... NO!!! "That's it. Quit thinking of your own worthlessness and get back to the matter at hand. " His voice was low, rough, strained. A barely audible whisper in the quiet of the darkness, the calming presence of the soothing blanket of a seemingly interminable starry night.
Weary he is. Lonely. Touch him, I can. Comfort him, I do. Haunted he is. Unable to bond with his Padawan. Only a training bond there is. No real closeness. Hard to accept the boy. Hard to be his friend. Understand him, I do. Approve of it, I must not. I cannot. Listen he does. Patient he is. Hungry to learn. Use his knowledge, he cannot. Or dare not ? Questions there are. Answers are needed. Find them I must. Soon...
It wasn't Anakin's fault. The boy was a great Padawan. A little stubborn, restless at times. Nothing he hadn't been himself at that age. He understood him. At least that was what he thought. Yet he didn't reach out. Didn't let him in. They were Teacher and Apprentice, separated by a sheer vastness, a gulf Anakin couldn't bridge and Obi-Wan didn't want to. Or dare to. He had only just touched the subject when talking to Master Yoda. Only just. They would have to dwell on it...soon. He had to be prepared. Find his own answers. Some things were meant to be his own concern. No one could take away the responsibility he had for the boy...teen...whatever. Or for his training.
Taking risks, he is. Talk to him I will. Wake him if I must. The little figure of the venerable Jedi Master shuffled towards the quarters Obi-Wan shared with his apprentice. Nobody would have supposed he was capable of that brisk a pace, considering his age and his calm demeanour.
Obi-Wan sat upright in a swift movement, sensing the familiar ripple in the Force. He cursed. Now that was it. And he hadn't even managed to sort out his emotions, his anxieties. Well, that was it. He couldn't help it. He flung his feet out of bed in a noiseless motion, softly creeping to the door, slipping out to join the waiting Jedi Master. One more short touch on Anakin's mind - good, he was still fast asleep. At least his shielding was perfectly intact. He followed Yoda out into the gardens like a little child, settling down beside his elder in a rather undignified heap. The moonlight painted shadowy circles of silvery white around them - silver like the streaks in his lover's hair...
Qui-Gon. Always on his mind he is. Even now. Resolve this we must. This night the turning point is. Depend on it the future does. Know it I do. Tell him, I cannot. Understand it he must. His destiny - in his decision it lies. Deal with this he must. So young he still is. Bear such a burden he should not.
The soft shaking of the head - Yoda was deeply troubled by something. Obi-Wan could only guess that it was him, yet, Sith he knew whatever was causing this silence to be so damn foreboding was his fault. His doing. He had got himself into a good bit of trouble this time. And no-one there to pull him out. Not his Master, not the little creature beside him who turned big, warm eyes on him, shining with remorseful pity.
"Like this I do not. Say it I must. Hurt you I might..."
"I...I know you mean well. I will listen to you and accept whatever you have to tell me."
Barely audible his voice is. One with the stillness of the night. Tired he is. Hopeless he is. And hopeful. Trust me he does...
It was hard on the Jedi Master. Never before had he been faced with such a situation. Not in all his years, decades, centuries of teaching, of learning. OObi-Wan needed advice and guidance. And he had given himself over completely in the care of his Master's teacher.
Alone I am in this. It was a mental sigh that didn't escape the old, well-constructed shields, flashing only briefly in the calm eyes.
"Your apprentice the boy is. Train him well, you do. Skilled he is. Good fighter. Like yourself. Other subjects you teach not. Fail you will. Turn he might." Short, to the point, never menacing, simply stating the facts. Emotionless as could be.
But Obi-Wan sensed the current of pity nevertheless. Yoda didn't like to reprimand him so sternly. He knew he had merited it. Every bit of it. Though he might not ever admit it, even to himself.
"Let him in, you must. A friend, the boy needs. A teacher you are. Be there for him. Guidance he needs."
"Master, I have talked to him, spent time with him...it's just that...I..."
"Fear him, you do not."
Sith, how did that guy always know him so well. He had wanted to put it all on his being afraid of Anakin's power. A lame excuse. It ran so much deeper. Down to a level he didn't want to venture to.
"Talk to me, you must. Admit your feelings. Deal with them you will. One way, or the other. Suffer, Anakin will. Let down your apprentice you have."
No hint of pity, not in the firm gaze, not in the steady figure. No wavering. This was to be the hardest lesson he had ever been taught. Obi-Wan sighed. He didn't want to. Not now. He wanted...
"Sleep you cannot. Give up, you will not. Your responsibility the boy is. Stick to it you must."
Like it I do not. Hurt him I have. Sad his eyes are. Clouded. Expressionless they seem. Lose his trust I will. Think of it I must not. The boy my priority must be. Trained well, he needs to be...
"Listen you must. Darkness have I felt. Near it is. Ever present. Cede, Anakin will. Be there you must. Need you he does."
"He has friends. He and Amidala are..."
"No. Accept this I will not. Know you I do. Lonely you are. Miss your lover. Let the boy feel it you do."
Obi-Wan was taken aback. The ancient Jedi's tone was harsh, a stony edge to its quietness. No emphasis was needed. He understood the implication. The problem he had with Anakin lay in his relationship with Qui-Gon...
"I have accepted his death. I have moved on with my life, as you told me to..."
Bad this is. Deny he does. Tell him what I know I must not. Admit it he must. Only then advise him I can. It was difficult. Seeing the sadness in Obi-Wan, yet being firm. For the sake of another...the galaxy...
Hard to see the future is. Always in motion. Seen the Dark Side I have. Too often. Fight it I cannot. The key the boy is. Deal with it Obi-Wan must.
The little Jedi Master inclined his head. A gesture Obi-Wan knew only too well. He was resigning to...well, probably to the stubbornness of the idiot who sat beside him and made his life a Sith hell with his...
"I can't." Two words conveying all the anguish, the pain the young man felt. Not at having lost his lover...
"Lost your faith you have."
Nod he does. Worse than I thought it is...
A hand on his shoulder. Yoda's soothing mental presence. Once again he felt drained. Every one of these sessions and discussions cut through his defences, his emotional barriers, driving deep into him, laying him open. He was left vulnerable. No-one else would ever be allowed to see this side of him. Only two people had he ever trusted with his innermost feelings. Qui-Gon and Yoda...
"Open yourself to the boy you must. Be his friend you should." Obi-Wan nodded. It sounded too easy, by far.
"Master, it...I...my defence is necessary...I...don't want to..."
"It will hurt. Trust me you do. Trust Qui-Gon you did. With your life. Trust Anakin you do not."
"He is...was...he is my...responsibility. I didn't...chose...want him."
There, he had said it. Found out what kept him from being the friend his apprentice sought in him. He hadn't wanted the boy. Sith. What had he been thinking. He couldn't actually say he hadn't chosen him. He had accepted his lover's last request, made it his quest, built his future on it. He had taken Anakin as his Padawan, settled down to a life with him, teaching him, yet he had not got close enough, had not done all that was necessary to establish the basis for a good relationship with his charge.
"Trust you he does. Look up to you. His family you are. Accepted him you have. Learned to live with him you have. But trust him you do not."
WHY? The question, though never spoken hung heavily in the air between them, suspended in the chilly breeze that swept through the hazy moonlit gardens.
"I...feared him. In the beginning, that is. Now...I...Sith...forgive me, Master I..."
"Curse if you will. Offended I am not. Say what you want you should. Get it out now you must. Easier to deal with it will be."
He wanted to hug the little Jedi Master. So much understanding. It was beyond his reasoning. He was so much trouble, constantly needed Yoda's advice, his patience, his guidance to get through...
"Why are you doing this? I mean, don't you get tired of all my howling, my..."
"Tedious you are not. A problem in you I do not see. Remind of Qui-Gon you do. Honoured by your trust I am. Prove worthy of it, I want to."
So simple. Such plain words. Obi-Wan knew for certain that he would never forget them for as long as he lived. Had Qui-Gon's love been communicated in every gesture, every tone of his voice, so did Yoda speak to his heart, his soul in the very same manner, comforting and soothing him, telling him he was not alone, he was loved and accepted, with all his faults.
"He...Anakin...I...he is very lively, open, I...if I let myself get carried away by his manner, I..."
Show patience I must. Find his answer he will. Work with it we can.
Obi-Wan slowly turned his thoughts around in his head. So many, all the emotions and feelings connected to his Padawan... Figuring out what they meant, what his reactions implied - Sith be damned! It couldn't be that? So simple...so... Shit... This was...
"Found an answer you have."
"It...Master, that can't be it...I mean..."
"Tell me. Listen I will. Judge you I will not."
"It seems that...what I thought of..." A deep breath. "I guess that if I give in to Anakin's friendly, open, uncomplicated view of life, let myself get caught up in it...I will lose control and...I don't have that much left, I mean, I'm struggling so hard to keep everything together everyday. My life, my thoughts, my memories, there are things I don't want to share with Anakin. Things I can't say, and...if I let go, trust him...I might let him know..."
"Some things shared must not be."
Yoda nodded. Good. It was true. He didn't want his feelings for Qui-Gon to be laid out for the boy to see. This was his own private grief. But his control only extended to a certain level. It had been hard to pull himself together after he had lost his Master, his lover. A part of him had died with the man in his arms. He had shielded himself since then. Only Yoda had been allowed to understand. To touch him.
"I don't know how to keep all I want to be private and personal from slipping out to Anakin. I'm...not used to this anymore...I..."
"Shared everything with Qui-Gon you have. All your feelings. Forgotten how to draw the line... New the bond with your apprentice is. Afraid of letting him know too much about you, you are."
"What can I do about it ?"
"Help you, I cannot, Obi-Wan. See for yourself you must. Divide what to share and what to keep to yourself. Necessary to sort out your emotions, it is. Take care of Anakin, I will. A week you have from tomorrow. Know where to find me you do."
A nod towards the young man, then the Jedi Master made his way towards the Jedi Temple, shuffling quietly along the hallway to wake Anakin and tell him to join him for breakfast.
In the misty dawn Obi-Wan sighed once more, before pushing himself up to stroll around the grounds aimlessly, pondering over the conversation. It would be a lot of work finding the equilibrium between a friendly open relationship with the boy and the necessity to keep as much of his life from his apprentice as was possible. Sharing his thoughts and feelings freely had come easily with Master Yoda in his deepest conflict after his lover's death. But only Qui-Gon had ever possessed his soul, been part of him, shared his spirit. Anakin never could, nor anyone else...
As the slim figure vanished in the early morning haze, Qui-Gon's silhouette lingered for a moment on the rustling breeze. "I wish I could comfort you, beloved, but the time has not yet come..."