Just a Pretty Rock
By Berzerkerprime

Author’s notes:
    This is set between Jedi Apprentice novels 4 and 5, so it’s before the Melida/Daan ruckus, but after Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon’s missions to Phindar and Gala.  There’s a line in book 5 that says that they went straight from Gala to Melida/Daan, but my pet plot bunny is allergic to it, so it’s being ignored.  It’s a minor detail, anyhow.
    This is a quickie I slapped off on the day before classes restarted at my campus, Labor Day, the second of September, 2002.  Enjoy!
    May the Force be with you!  ^_^


    Coruscant was somehow a beautiful planet late at night.  The twinkling lights of the endless skyline blinked and shimmered against the pleasantly light-pollution colored sky and in the dark reaches of the planet’s long-forgotten surface levels.  As one flew over the planet-wide city in a spacecraft and crossed the terminator into the night side of the planet, it would be easy to think of the massive cityscape as a whole new galaxy suddenly shimmering below.
    Taking in this view, Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn maneuvered the craft he and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, had borrowed from Queen Veda of Gala.  They had been called back to the Jedi Temple on urgent summons and Qui-Gon reasoned that the Council had another mission awaiting them.
    Qui-Gon brought the ship in on the landing platform nearest the Temple and powered down the engines.  Once the ship was completely powered down and the crew had begun doing maintenance, Qui-Gon stole a glance over at his Padawan in the copilot’s seat.
    The boy was sound asleep, just as he had been the entire way back to Coruscant.  His head was bent over his chest in a somewhat awkward position and Qui-Gon found it amazing that Obi-Wan had managed to fall asleep at all.
    But then the Knight corrected himself and decided that it wasn’t all that surprising at all.  Their mission to Gala – and their detour to Phindar – had turned out to be so much more than the routine mission Yoda had expected it to be.  For a Master and Padawan’s first official mission together, it had certainly turned out to be a doosy.  But despite being deceived, captured, the victim of an attempted brainwipe, hit, beaten, poked, prodded, betrayed, and nearly frozen in a meat locker, Obi-Wan had held his own through it all.
    Having bested the brainwipe was the most astonishing to Qui-Gon.  Somehow, despite an acute lack of experience and a somewhat troubling lack of discipline, Obi-Wan had managed enough mental control to hold off the effects of that awful machine.  Using the Force, Qui-Gon had investigated Obi-Wan’s mental barriers and found them to be quite strong indeed.  He wasn’t sure if it was the boy’s control over the Force or if it was sheer tenacity.
    If it was the latter… well, considerable work would need to be done on that.  Perseverance was a virtue, stubbornness was a vice.
    Qui-Gon reached over and gently shook Obi-Wan’s shoulder.  “Time to wake up, Padawan,” he said once Obi-Wan had begun to stir, “we’re home.”
    “I wasn’t sleeping,” Obi-Wan protested, rubbing his eyes in a manner that managed to make him look even younger than his scant thirteen years, “I was checking my eyelids for holes.”
    Qui-Gon chuckled as he popped open the ship’s hatch.  “In any case, I’m sure you’ll be much more comfortable on the sleepcouch in your own quarters.”
    “Sure,” Obi-Wan agreed around a yawn.
    Obi-Wan’s exhaustion was contagious and Qui-Gon began to feel it as he climbed out of their spacecraft.  He had to admit to being anxious to get to his own sleepcouch.  Hopefully, the Council wouldn’t want a report until morning.

    The sun was just peaking its way through the eastern section of skyline when the Council called Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to report on their mission.  From the center tower where the Council met, one could see miles and miles of tips of towers in all directions.  Early in the morning, the sky faded from soft oranges and yellows to dark navy blue.
    “Whereupon the elections were held freely with no further objections from Prince Beju,” Qui-Gon finished his report to the fully assembled Jedi Council.  Obi-Wan was standing to the side and a step behind him, in his proper place as Qui-Gon’s Padawan.  “There will be a smooth transfer of power to the new ruler and we should expect little, if any, more trouble from Gala.”  He paused and cleared his throat, placing his hands on his hips in a less formal matter.  “Also, Masters, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Obi-Wan’s accomplishments.  He fared very well under unexpectedly difficult circumstances on both Gala and Phindar.”
    Although he couldn’t see it with his eyes, Qui-Gon could feel the beaming smile that flickered across Obi-Wan’s face.  He also felt the boy clamp down on his excitement right away, as if cautious of it in front of the Council.  Qui-Gon decided that it was probably wise.
    “Yes, sensed this we have,” Yoda agreed, and he shifted his gaze to the apprentice, “also a hint of pride do we sense.  Well you performed, young Obi-Wan, but meditate on your pride you must as well.”
    Obi-Wan bowed his head in deference.  “I will Master Yoda.  Thank you for the correction,” he said genuinely.  Somehow, Qui-Gon sensed that Obi-Wan was rather relieved that Yoda had taken notice of it.  It was simply another sign that the boy was truly ready to be taught.
    “On to other matters,” Mace Windu put in, “the situation on Melida/Daan has begun to spiral completely out of control.  A few days ago we received a request from the Melida to mediate the dispute there.  We sent Knight Tahl to see to it.”
    Qui-Gon nodded.  “I’ve known Tahl all my life.  If anyone can mediate a situation as volatile as Melida/Daan, it would be her.”
    “Except that she has gone missing,” Ki-Adi Mundi stated.
    “Missing?” Qui-Gon said in sudden alarm.
    “As of now, she has missed two of her scheduled check-in times,” Adi Gallia informed them, “her next one is one day from now.  If she misses it as well, we will send you to investigate.”
    Qui-Gon took a strangely urgent step forward which Obi-Wan took note of.  “Are you certain we shouldn’t go now?”
    “She may simply be unable to leave the negotiations,” Ploo Koon said, “we are concerned, but we must also balance that concern with caution.  We would not want to disrupt her progress by sending more Jedi prematurely.”
Visibly centering himself, Qui-Gon nodded and took a slow, deep, calming breath.  He allowed his emotions to pass and refocused his center.
    “Sensed we have not her passage into the Force,” Yoda said gently in an understanding way, “simply a precaution your standing by is.”
    “I understand, Masters,” Qui-Gon said, “Obi-Wan and I will be ready to leave at a moment’s notice should the Council see fit that we go to Melida/Daan.”
    “We will summon you the moment we have news,” Mace told them, “take this time to rest.  May the Force be with you.”
    “And with you, Masters,” Qui-Gon said as both he and Obi-Wan bowed once again.  The meeting thus adjourned, Qui-Gon led the way out of the Council chambers with Obi-Wan on his heels.
    As soon as the doors to the chamber slid shut, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon were treated to a gleeful yelp from the opposite end of the waiting area.  The blue tunic clad Calamarian girl, Bant Eerin, came bounding their way and wrapped herself around Obi-Wan in an affectionate hug.
    “Obi-Wan!” she exclaimed.  “You’re finally back!  Your first official mission as a Padawan!  You have got to tell me all about it!”
    “Bant!” Obi-Wan responded in kind.  “I’m so glad I remembered you right!  You don’t know how happy I am to see you.”
    “Remembered me right?” she asked, giving him a strange look.  “What do you mean?”
    “It’s a long story.”
    Qui-Gon cleared his throat, reminding the two students that he was still in existence.  Immediately, Bant tore herself away from Obi-Wan and bowed respectfully to the Knight.  “It’s good to see you too, Master Jinn,” she said.
    “And you Bant,” Qui-Gon said around a smile, “Obi-Wan is lucky to have a friend who so eagerly awaits his return.”
    “I don’t suppose you have any free time?” Bant asked, turning her attention back to Obi-Wan.  “I was just going to go for my morning swim.  Wanna come?”
    “Padawan,” Qui-Gon said sternly, “don’t forget Master Yoda’s instructions.”
    Obi-Wan cringed.  “Oh!  Right, right.”  He knocked himself lightly in the forehead twice.  “Must meditate on pride.  Can’t forget that.”
    Bant giggled.  “You did have an interesting mission, didn’t you.”  Her face fell slightly.  “But I guess I’ll have to wait to hear about it until later.”
    Obi-Wan sighed as well.  “I’m sorry, Bant.  I’d love to go for a swim with you, but-”
    “Padawan,” Qui-Gon cut in once more, “a friendship should never get in the way of training.”  He said it sternly, but a moment later a smile spread across his face once again and a hint of humor was back in his voice.  “However, training should never get in the way of a friendship, either.  You can meditate just as well after your swim as before.  Go on.”
Obi-Wan’s face lit up with joy.  “Thank you, Master!” he exclaimed.  “I promise, I’ll meditate right after I get back.  Before I do anything else.”
    “We could meditate together,” Bant suggested, “after all, it’s been a while.  And I could use some centering myself.  I have to admit, I was kinda worried for a while when they said you had been diverted to Phindar.”
    Obi-Wan looked up at Qui-Gon, a face asking what the Knight thought of that idea without words.
    “That much is your decision,” Qui-Gon stated, “I will simply hold you to meditating and leave it at that.  Now go and enjoy yourself for a few hours.”
    “We will, Master,” Obi-Wan replied, “I’ll catch up with you again, later.”
    With that, Obi-Wan and Bant began to make their way to the tower lift on their way to the temple’s artificial lake.
    “I’m glad you’re back, Master Jinn,” Bant said over her shoulder on the way.  She then turned her attention back to Obi-Wan once again.  “Hey, you’re thirteen now!  Did he remember to get you a gift?”
    “Of course he did,” Obi-Wan answered, fishing in his tunic pocket.  He handed Bant the stone Qui-Gon had given him.  “Here, look.  It’s Force-sensitive.”
    “Wow, it’s really pretty.”
    Their conversation was swallowed up by the closing lift doors and Qui-Gon turned his gaze to the window of the waiting area.  However, it wasn’t the cityscape he was pondering.
    Seeing Obi-Wan interact with Bant, Qui-Gon was reminded of his own friendship with Tahl.  Bant wasn’t a Padawan yet, but since she was Obi-Wan’s friend, Qui-Gon felt a little bit of responsibility for her well-being as well.  He understood the worry she had been having while he and Obi-Wan had been on their mission because now he was feeling the same.
Fervently, he hoped that wherever Tahl was and whatever she was doing, she was all right.

    “So you dressed up as the prince and got them to ship the Bacta where it was needed?” Bant asked him, silver eyes wide with amazement as she and Obi-Wan floated on their backs in the lake, looking up at the simulated sky above.  “And all the while, they thought that you were running around with no memory?  Stampeding gundarks, Obi-Wan, that must have taken some acting talent.”
    “The Force helped a little, too,” he said, winking an eye at her.
    “So, what’d the prince do when you saw him again?”
    “Well, naturally, he wasn’t very happy with me.  Or Master Qui-Gon for that matter.  As soon as we met Queen Veda, he stormed in, ranting like a shaved Wookie.  But, once Qui-Gon brought his older half sister to meet him, and he realized he never really had a claim to the crown to begin with, he lightened up considerably and finally realized what Queen Veda was trying to achieve.  It turned out he wasn’t so bad a guy after all.”
    “Wow,” Bant breathed, “I can’t wait to be a Padawan, now.  It sounds like you got to meet a lot of interesting people.”
    “Yeah,” said Obi-Wan, “but a mission sure isn’t anything like temple training would have you believe.  Out there, if you make a mistake, you really feel it.  I mean, feel it.  I have more bruises than I ever got from a month of lightsaber training with Master Bondara.”
    “More confusing, too?”
    “The jury’s still out on that one.”  He tilted himself up off his back and treaded water next to the still-floating Bant.  “We’ve been in here almost two hours.  I suppose I should go and meditate like I promised Qui-Gon.”
    “I think I’ve soaked long enough,” Bant agreed.  “How about the Room of a Thousand Fountains for a meditation session?”
    “Sounds like a plan.”
    Together, they both got out of the water, dried themselves off so that they wouldn’t leave a trail of water in the halls of the Temple on their way, and made their way to the Room of a Thousand Fountains where they settled in on the cool, green grass.  As they were well trained to do, they both centered themselves and opened themselves up to the Force and to each other.
    For Obi-Wan, it felt good to let himself feel Bant’s presence once again.  It had been nearly a year since they had meditated together and he found that he had missed the soothing comfort of her friendship.  The two of them had a special bond and Obi-Wan found that he could draw strength merely from her presence.
    The Force flowed through him, carrying away concern and pain and uncertainty and Obi-Wan let himself fall into its welcoming embrace.  Recalling what it was that Yoda had wanted him to meditate on, he asked the Force what he should learn about pride.  It whispered to him the stories of fallen kings and overthrown leaders whose pride had turned to arrogance and whose arrogance had subsequently turned to greed and evil.  It affirmed that he must be mindful not to follow that path for at its end lied the Dark Side.
    Yes, Obi-Wan agreed with the Force, that was a path to be avoided at all costs.
    The Force turned his attention to other matters, then.  Never before had it turned Obi-Wan’s gaze to the past, but the Force was now telling him that he had made a mistake.  It was a small one, but it was to have a consequence he could not see until now.  It would lead to another test for him.
    Suddenly, Obi-Wan realized that he could no longer feel Bant, even though she was most certainly still right by his side.  He reached out and found that he could feel nothing of the Living Force in the Room of a Thousand Fountains either.
Something was wrong.  Dread filled Obi-Wan and he decided that perhaps he had gone too deeply into a meditative state.  It was time to go back.
    But he couldn’t go back.  He was a Jedi now, and not just a regular boy.  The last time he had seen his family, he had been only three years old.  His brother had said goodbye to him.
    His brother.  His brother’s name was… what?  Obi-Wan couldn’t remember.
    Something was definitely very wrong.  Obi-Wan struggled to find his way back, but his mind stretched out an endless path in front of him.  His consciousness a panicked jumble, he suddenly thought back to the day he had first come to the temple, when he had first met Yoda.
    What had Yoda said?  What was it that Yoda had said to him?
    Who was it that never got enough to eat?
    How did the sunset look over the Temple?  What color was it?
    What color were Bant’s eyes?  Force, he couldn’t remember the color of his best friend’s eyes!
    What had his Master given him?
    Something was seriously wrong.  But what?  What had he been doing?  What had he been thinking about?
    Just… who was he?
    Suddenly, all he knew was fear.  He didn’t even know why, but it was paramount and it wouldn’t go away.  It was as if it was trapped within him in some way.  But now it was all he had and he refused to let go of it.  Someone had taken everything from him, but no one would touch the one thing he now had left.
    But why?  Why was he afraid?
    He didn’t know.  By the fear that accompanied him, he didn’t know!

    Bant’s eyes snapped open and she immediately turned to look at Obi-Wan.  She couldn’t feel him in the Force.  And yet, there he was, sitting in the grass, still meditating.  It was as if he had been dragged under by some swirling current.  It was as if he was not even there.
    Hesitantly, Bant reached over and shook one of Obi-Wan’s shoulders.  That was usually enough to bring him out of meditation.  But this time it wasn’t.  Worried now, she sent the Force into him, searching.
    She hit only the equivalent of a blank wall.  She had never felt of such a strong one.  Obi-Wan had never put up Force barriers around his consciousness before.
    Suddenly, she remembered.  He had put up a Force barrier around his consciousness on Phindar.  He had done it to fight the brainwipe.  But that had most certainly been his first attempt at such a thing, hadn’t it?
    She tried once more to find him through the Force and failed.
    She didn’t know what to do.  But, she knew, others would.

    Qui-Gon was brought out of his own meditations when his comlink blared to life.  Focusing on reality once again, he switched it on.
    “This is Qui-Gon Jinn,” he answered.
    “Master Jinn, thank the Force!” Bant’s worried voice came through the tiny communication device.
    “Bant?” he asked, inexplicably getting to his feet.  “What is it?  What’s the matter?”
    “It’s Obi-Wan,” she stammered out, “we were meditating and something’s wrong with him.”
    “Where are you?”
    “We’re in the Room of a Thousand Fountains.”
    “I will be there in a moment.  Stay with him.”
    Not even waiting for Bant to respond, since he knew she would do just as he asked, Qui-Gon left his quarters and ran down to the fountain-enhanced garden space.  On his way, he met Yoda in one of the lifts.
    “A disturbance, I have sensed,” Yoda stated.
    “Yes, Master.  It’s Obi-Wan.  Something’s wrong.”
    “Find him in the Force, you cannot?”  Qui-Gon shook his head.  “Hmmm.  Troubling this is.”
    “I agree, Master.”
    “Accompany you to the Room of a Thousand Fountains I will.  Help him, we will together.  Initiate Eerin as well if centered enough she is.”
    The lift came to a halt at the bottom of its tube and both Jedi were out and hurrying down the halls an instant later.  They came to the Room of a Thousand Fountains and sure enough, there was Obi-Wan, sitting in a meditative crouch, and Bant sitting next to him and wringing her hands in distress.  She came to her feet and rushed over to them as soon as they entered.
    “Masters!” she exclaimed.
    “Calm yourself you must,” Yoda instructed her, “or help Obi-Wan you cannot.”
    As Bant closed her eyes and took deep, calming breaths, Qui-Gon covered the distance to his Padawan and knelt down next to him.  The Knight sent tendrils of the Force toward the boy and immediately came into contact with the same walls Bant had.
    “It’s like he isn’t even in there,” Bant told them, “one minute, I could feel him and the next, it was like something had buried him alive.”
    Yoda joined Qui-Gon by Obi-Wan’s side and Bant hovered behind them both.  Concentrating, the diminutive green Master probed the boy’s walls with his own Force signature.  Finally, he came to a conclusion.
    “A barrier there is around the boy’s mind,” he said, “a powerful barrier.  Within its walls, Obi-Wan still exists, but trapped.  Feel us he can, but separated from all that makes him who he is.”
    “The memory wipe on Phindar,” Qui-Gon realized, “he constructed very powerful barriers in order to resist it.  I should have known some remnants of them would still exist.”
    “Can we help him?” Bant asked, urgently.
    “Only one way, there is,” Yoda stated, “break through the barriers we must.”
    Qui-Gon nodded his agreement, then turned to Bant.  “This will not be pleasant.  You may wish to leave.”
    Bant shook her head.  “I’m staying,” she told him, “I won’t abandon him.”
    “All right,” Qui-Gon responded, “then be mindful.  If you feel any part of Obi-Wan surface, I want you to hold on to it.  Hold on to it and don’t let it go.”
    Bant nodded her understanding and Qui-Gon turned his attention back to Obi-Wan.  Steeling himself for the task, he summed up the Force and let it flow through him.
    Concentrating and feeling that Yoda and Bant were doing the same, Qui-Gon sent himself toward Obi-Wan’s barriers.  He met strong resistance as he began to fight against them.
    Seemingly startled, Obi-Wan’s face twisted into a mask of pain and confusion.  Qui-Gon and Yoda pressed their assault once again and Obi-Wan’s eyes flew open.  However, they were empty, devoid of any feeling or memory.
    “You…” Obi-Wan moaned, softly, “you can’t… have it… it’s mine.”
    The barriers steeled themselves against the elder Jedis’ combined attack.  They had long ago bounced Bant back to herself and she simply stood there, waiting and hoping.  Qui-Gon and Yoda pressed on.
    “No,” Obi-Wan whimpered, face contorting further, “you can’t have it.  It’s mine.  You won’t take it from me!”  He was shouting now.  “You won’t take it from me!”
    Suddenly, Obi-Wan grabbed his lightsaber from his belt, and lit it, jumping to his feet as he did so.  Not expecting the move, Qui-Gon and Yoda were forced back and Bant let out a terrified yelp.  Instinctively, Qui-Gon put his own lightsaber in his hand, but he didn’t actually light it until Obi-Wan, wonder of wonders, took a swing at him.  Qui-Gon deflected the blow easily, locking his saber with Obi-Wan’s.  The two lightsabers crackled and a curl of smoke rose into the air.
    “Y-you can’t… h-have it,” Obi-Wan repeated.
    Qui-Gon snapped his saber around and knocked Obi-Wan off his balance, still pressing his Force attack on Obi-Wan’s mental barriers.  They were weakening, but now Qui-Gon’s attention was divided between them and Obi-Wan’s wildly swinging lightsaber.
    Qui-Gon was on the defensive with his body, but kept up the attack with his mind, still adding what concentration he could to Yoda.  Obi-Wan paused his saber attack and reeled backward a step, holding his head with his free hand.
    “I won’t let you take it from me!” the Padawan shouted, then launched himself at Qui-Gon once again.  The Knight met the clumsy attack and repelled it by ducking under the shining blue blade and sending a kick to Obi-Wan’s chest, knocking him backward.  Once again, Qui-Gon pressed his mental attack as Obi-Wan slowly got to his feet, shaking his head from side to side and shouting out enraged calls.
    “Silver!” Bant called to him.  “My eyes are silver, Obi-Wan!  They’re silver.”  A hole had opened up and Bant had latched on to it, trying to hold it open and keep it from closing in on itself once again.  “It’s Reeft who never gets enough to eat!”  She held up the river stone that Qui-Gon had given Obi-Wan for his thirteenth birthday.  “And this is what Master Qui-Gon gave you!”
    Obi-Wan turned his hazy gaze toward the Calamarian and concentrated on her face for a moment.
    “You can’t have them,” he moaned.  He then launched himself at Bant rather than at Qui-Gon.  But she stood her ground, holding on to that part of Obi-Wan that she had found.
    Qui-Gon was in motion immediately and put himself between the two students.  With a skillful, well-placed strike, the Knight nicked Obi-Wan’s saber-bearing arm with the tip of his own green bladed weapon.   Obi-Wan reeled backward, his arms flailing out and his lightsaber flying off into one of the nearby fountains where it shorted out.  The Padawan managed to stay on his feet, somehow, and instinctively clutched the small flesh wound in his arm.
    The empty look left Obi-Wan’s eyes and it was replaced by sheer terror as he looked back and forth between the three faces before him.
    “Y-you… c-can’t…”
    “Far to come, far to go it is,” Yoda said to him, “cold and warm, it is.  Seek what you are looking for, you will.  Find it here, you shall.”  He closed his eyes and pressed forward once more, calmly and serenely.  “Listen.”
    “Fah… Fountains…” Obi-Wan breathed.
    “Remember this, Obi-Wan?” Bant asked, slowly moving toward him and holding out the river stone.
    “It’s… it’s mine?”
    “That’s right, Obi-Wan,” Qui-Gon said as Bant slowly pressed the stone into the hand that Obi-Wan wasn’t using to keep hold of his wound, “it’s yours.”
    Slowly, Obi-Wan turned to look at the Knight.  “Kwa… Qui-Gon?”
    “You have me, now,” Qui-Gon told him, nodding, “you can let the other thing go.  Let it leave you, now.”
    Obi-Wan’s hand closed around the river stone and it felt warm in his hand.  He swayed on his feet and Qui-Gon caught him as he fell and eased him to the ground, resting the Padawan’s head on his knees.  Yoda and Bant drew in closer and Obi-Wan dazedly looked from one to the other.
    “Bant,” he whispered, “Master Yoda.  S-sorry… about all that.”
    Their Obi-Wan was back, albeit dazed, confused, and exhausted.  Qui-Gon sent him a calming wave and Obi-Wan flinched back from it slightly.  Yoda reached a hand out and gently felt of Obi-Wan’s Force signature.
    “Gone the barriers are,” he told them, “gone also are the ones that do him good.  Feeling too much of the Force he is now.  Rebuild those weaker shields he must.  But for now, needed more is sleep.”
    Slowly, as Yoda’s gentle Force suggestion took hold, Obi-Wan’s eyes drifted closed and he fell into a fitful slumber.
    Carefully, Qui-Gon gathered Obi-Wan up in his arms and lifted him off the ground.  “I’ll take him to the Healers,” he told Yoda, then turned his gaze to Bant, “and thank you for your help, Bant.  You were correct not to leave.”
    “Just please make sure he’s all right, Master Jinn,” Bant plead, wringing her hands once again.
    Qui-Gon nodded to her and then swiftly made his way out of the room, carrying Obi-Wan.  Bant wandered over to the fountain where Obi-Wan’s lightsaber had landed and shorted out and fished it from the pool.
    “He’ll probably need this recharged,” she murmured, sensing that Yoda was still there with her.
    “Wait it can,” he told her, “asleep for some hours Obi-Wan will be.  For now, speak of your fears we must.  Sit.”
    “Yes, Master Yoda,” she said, doing so, “I think I need to.”

    Qui-Gon waited patiently for his Padawan to awake, his eyes never leaving Obi-Wan’s peacefully sleeping face.  The Healers had tended to the small wound in his arm and had cleared him of any mental damage long ago, but instructed Qui-Gon to allow him to sleep for a few hours.
    It was sometime in the mid afternoon that the boy finally stirred and came to.  Qui-Gon was alert in an instant, extending his own shields around the boy in an effort to dampen out some of the wild currents of the Force that always swirled about the Temple.
    “Master?” Obi-Wan asked, locking his eyes on the Knight.
    “Welcome back, Padawan,” Qui-Gon said to him, gently, “how do you feel?”
    Obi-Wan shifted and pushed himself into a slightly more alert position.  “It’s too bright.  And it’s too loud.”
    “Master Yoda and I had to break through your shields,” Qui-Gon informed him, “you need to rebuild your filters.  Concentrate, just as you’ve been taught.”
    Obi-Wan nodded and took a deep breath, doing so.  Within moments, the soul-splitting thrum of the Force was damped down to its normal, gentle lull.  Carefully, Qui-Gon withdrew his own shields.
    “Good,” Qui-Gon said, “none of this seems to have affected your control over the Force.
    Obi-Wan shifted again, pushing himself up into a sitting position.  A dull twinge told him there was something wrong with his right arm and he looked at it once he didn’t need it to hold himself up.  “Did I… I mean… did you…?”
In response, Qui-Gon unclipped Obi-Wan’s lightsaber from his belt and handed it back to the boy.  “Bant brought this by a little while ago.  She dried it off and recharged it.”
    Obi-Wan sighed, regarding the black and silver cylinder in dismay.  “Oafy-Wan strikes again,” he muttered.
    “Padawan,” Qui-Gon said sternly, scowling, “I do not ever want to hear you call yourself that again.  That is a step backward that I refuse to allow you to take.”
    “Yes, Master,” Obi-Wan mumbled.
    It was Qui-Gon’s turn to sigh now and he sat down on the edge of the bed, still looking at his forlorn Padawan.  He knew that Obi-Wan was going to stew about the entire affair if he wasn’t made to confront it.  And since they needed to be ready to go to Melida/Daan come the next day, there was no time like the present.
    “Obi-Wan, I want you to tell me what happened while you were meditating.”
    “I… I’d really rather not, Master.”
    “Accept your fear and let it pass.  You are a Jedi.”
    “But that’s just it,” Obi-Wan protested, sullenly, “when I was trapped, I… I couldn’t.  I started to forget things and that made me afraid and that made me forget even more things which made me even more afraid.  It was this… this terrible cycle, Master.  And then, the fear was all I could remember and… and I couldn’t let it go because then I wouldn’t have been anyone.”  The words were spilling out of the boy’s mouth now, almost faster than he could think of them.  He had to pause to catch up with his thoughts and in that moment, his grip on his lightsaber became white-knuckled and tense.  “I wouldn’t have even been there any more.”
    Qui-Gon silently and patiently considered all of what Obi-Wan had said, giving the Padawan a moment to calm down once again.  “All right,” he finally said, “I understand.”
    Finally, Obi-Wan lifted his gaze back to his master and gave the elder Jedi a confused look.  “You do?”
    “You told me that on Phindar you constructed walls around your memories, you buried them in the Force where the machine couldn’t reach them.  A portion of those walls, the ones around your memories but not around your consciousness, still remained and your meditations brought them back to full strength.”
    “Is this going to happen every time I meditate now?”
    Qui-Gon shook his head.  “No, those barriers are most decidedly gone now.  It was an oversight on both our parts.  I should have thought to make sure that they weren’t there any more in the first place.  We should think of it as a blessing that this happened here and the Temple and not while we were on a mission.”  He gave Obi-Wan a slight smirk.  “I have to admit, I doubt I would have been strong enough to break down your shields on my own.”
    To Qui-Gon’s relief, a small smile crept its way into his Padawan’s face.  “Nah, they couldn’t have been that strong, Master.”
    “Obi-Wan, in the matter of cutting yourself off from others when you want to, you are most alarmingly adept.”
    “This is going to turn into a lesson about the Living Force versus the Unifying Force, isn’t it.”
    “Yes,” Qui-Gon responded, simply, “but for now, I want you to get some rest.”
    “Can’t I go and sleep in my quarters?”
    “I think you should remain here for a while longer.”
    “But why, Master?  The Healers have cleared me, haven’t they?”
    Qui-Gon pulled up a second chair next to the one he had previously been sitting on before Obi-Wan had awoke.  “Because there is only room for one, there.”  He plopped down in the first chair and pushed the second into a comfortable range for his feet.  The master then stretched most of his considerable height out and situated himself until he was comfortable.
    “I’ll stay with you as you sleep, my Padawan,” he said, “if you need a lifeline, I’ll be here.”
    Obi-Wan laid back in the pillows and made himself comfortable as well, looking up at the ceiling.
    “You’ve already been that once, today, Master.”  He shifted his weight and turned onto his side, facing away from Qui-Gon.  “Thanks.”

The End