Part One:


Padawan A'lia Kedesh slid silently through the

flowering shrubs and bushes, practicing every Jedi secrecy

art that the eleven-year-old little girl had ever learned. 


She dare not get caught here.  What would Master Drenba

think...?  She shuddered.  Sticking her small, pointed chin

out straight to keep it from quivering she forced herself

onward.  She was no coward!  She would show those kids that

made fun of her back in the village!  She wasn't afraid of

the Eeoa'lyn priests, or their holy ground!


In her heart however, she knew it was a lie.  She was

quaking in her boots.  Maybe in truth that was why she had

accepted the village children's dare, in an effort to prove

to *herself* that she wasn't afraid.  After all, Jedi

weren't supposed to be afraid...  She was beginning to wish

that she had not been quite so hasty.


"A'lia!" the soft voice behind her made the little

Correlian girl jump.  Spinning around, she saw Master

Jinn's apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi behind her, a worried

expression on his face. 


Master Jinn and Master Drenba had both been assigned

to the difficult Talteeri negotiations and so their two

Padawans had spent a lot of time together these past few



At sixteen, Obi-Wan was five years A'lia's senior and

had every reason to look at her as a mere child, but A'lia

had found him to be a very friendly, if also very quiet

young man.  Truth to tell she had developed quite a crush

on him, but that was just the age she was at.


"Obi-Wan!  You scared me!" she hissed, putting her

hand over her pounding heart.  "What are you doing here?"


"That's what I was just going to ask you A'lia," Obi-

Wan said, keeping his voice low.  "I saw you go over the

wall," he explained briefly.  "Don't you realize you're on

Eeoa'lyn holy ground?  Our Masters will kill us if they

find out we were here!"


"Then why don't you leave?" A'lia said stubbornly. 


"I intend to, and you're coming with me," Obi-Wan

replied firmly, trying to take her hand. 


A'lia's stubbornness was just a front.  She was not a

headstrong little girl.  She already knew she shouldn't be

here, so she abandoned the foolish dare to cross the entire

area and let Obi-Wan take her hand.  "Okay Obi," she said



Suddenly they both ducked down behind a large shrub as

they heard someone approaching. 


About six Eeoa'lyn priests in their flowing yellow and

purple robes came into sight. 


Obi-Wan and A'lia both held their breath, hoping the

priests would pass by quickly, but it was not to be.  To

the two Padawan's horror, the priests stopped about three

hundred meters away, took out gardening equipment and

started pruning the grove of fruit trees a little to their



"What are we going to do Obi?" A'lia whispered

quietly, looking to the older Padawan to take the lead.


Obi-Wan assessed their situation.  The Eeoa'lyn

priests were very strict about their grounds, surrounding

them with high walls and considering them holy. 

Trespassing was viewed as a serious transgression as well

as a crime. 


The situation here on Talteeri was already so tense,

that even the Jedi were barely trusted.  If he and A'lia

were caught here, it could badly damage, if not destroy

their Masters' chances of being able to negotiate

peacefully with the Talteerian peoples at the meeting this



"We're going to have to wait quietly I guess," he said

after a moment.  "And hope they go away soon."


A'lia did not like his answer.  "But Master Drenba

will start wondering where I am, She'll know something's



*"Master Qui-Gon too,"* Obi-Wan sighed inwardly,

wondering just how much trouble he'd get in for this.  He

would never have trespassed here if he hadn't been going

after A'lia, but that didn't diminish the fact that he was

indeed there, in defiance, he realized a little too late,

of one of his Master's direct orders.  "Can't be helped,"

he said softly.  "I think they'll be sizably less upset

with us if we *don't* create a diplomatic incident by

getting caught."


"Can't - can't we make them go away?" A'lia asked



Obi-Wan shook his head decidedly.  "No.  We are not

supposed to be here.  I don't know if it would be a miss-

use of the Force or not to use it to get us out of this,

but I for one do not want to risk it.  Won't help anyway. 

We're going to have to tell Master Qui-Gon and Master Fioni

about this when we get back anyhow," he sighed. 


"Do we?" A'lia asked softly.


Obi-Wan looked at her sharply.  "Yes, we do.  A'lia, I

don't know about you, but Master Qui-Gon specifically told

me to stay off the Eeoa'lyn's estates.  I'm going to have

to tell him that I disobeyed, and why."


A'lia's face turned very pale.  "Oh, Obi, you

wouldn't!  Y-you just can't tell him about the dare!  He'll

tell Master Drenba, and, and she'll send me away!"


"SHH!" Obi-Wan pressed his finger urgently to his

lips, quieting the girl before she drew attention to them. 

"She won't send you away, where would she send you?" Obi-

Wan shook his head a trifle unsympathetically.  He liked

A'lia, but right now he was more than a little annoyed with

her for getting them both into such trouble.  After he said

it, he regretted his harsh tone, because he realized A'lia

was trembling and there were tears in her large brown eyes.


"Back to the Temple.  She'll send me back to the

Temple," A'lia said, the tears in her eyes overflowing down

her cheeks.  "We've only been together for a few months,

and-and she's regretting asking me to be her Padawan, now,

now that she knows me better," the little girl's chin

quivered.  "I'm not a good student and I don't learn things

quickly, I'm always messing up," all of A'lia's fears,

frustrations and hurts tumbled out of her in a soft,

sobbing whisper.  "I-I've taken dares before, and, and she

forbade me to ever do it again.  If she finds out I

disobeyed, she'll have a reason to send me back.  No one

will take another Master's reject, I'll - I'll be stuck

with the agri-corps!  And I'll be alone," she whispered the

last part so softly that Obi-Wan could barely hear her. 


"A'lia," he took her chin gently in his hand.  "You're

working yourself up over nothing.  Yes, we'll probably both

get in trouble for being here, but it's not the end of the

world.  Your Master won't send you back over this."


A'lia shook her head, terror in her eyes.  "You don't

understand Obi-Wan, how could you?  Master Jinn loves you;

you've been together for over three years.  You don't have

to worry about him rejecting you.  You don't understand

what it's like to live every moment in terror that you're

going to do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, and ruin

everything you've worked for, everything you want so badly! 

I'd give anything if Master Fioni liked me half as much as

Master Qui-Gon loves you.  If she could trust me like

that... but then I go and do something stupid like this and

blow it all!"  A'lia was sobbing silently, but

uncontrollably now. 


*"You don't know what it's like..."* but Obi-Wan did

know.  Reaching out he squeezed A'lia's small hand tightly. 


"I do know what it's like A'lia.  Things weren't always as

smooth with my Master and I as they are now.  In the

beginning it was very easy for me to believe that I was

unwanted, and uncared for, but I was wrong, and you are



From their place behind the shrub, the two Jedi

youngsters saw the priests leave as suddenly as they had



"Come on," Obi-Wan said quietly, seizing the

opportunity.  "We've got to hurry, they left their

gardening supplies behind so they'll be back soon."


"Obi, there's no reason our Masters have to know, is

there?" A'lia pleaded desperately with him.  "I mean, now

we're getting out of here before we're missed, and - and...

Oh Please Obi!  Promise me you won't tell!"


Obi-Wan was torn.  He didn't feel it was right to hide

what had happened, but the look in A'lia's eyes cut right

through his heart.  In her eyes he saw himself three years

ago.  Every little bit of trouble he had gotten in had

cemented firmer and firmer his fears that Qui-Gon did not

want him and did not even like him.  He didn't want A'lia

to suffer that way.  He knew how badly it hurt. 


"I can't lie to my Master A'lia," he said sadly. 


"I-I'm not asking you to lie Obi-Wan," A'lia pleaded. 

"Just don't say anything.  Please Obi-Wan, please!"


Obi-Wan sighed, wishing he knew what the right thing

to do was.  "Okay A'lia.  I won't tell," he said softly.


"You promise?" A'lia brightened tearfully.  "You won't

tell anyone that I was here or about the dare?"


Obi-Wan nodded.  "I promise A'lia, but don't you

*ever* take another stupid dare, do you understand?  That

is not the way a Jedi behaves and it is not how you prove



A'lia nodded.  "I promise you Obi-Wan, no more dares,

ever.  I'm sorry, but thanks, thanks so much!"  She was so

happy that she stood up on her tiptoes and planted a quick

kiss right on his lips. 


Obi-Wan smiled and squeezed her shoulder.  "Okay,

okay, let's just get out of here.  I'll be look-out for you

while you go over the wall."


So, while Obi-Wan watched to be sure they were not

spotted, A'lia scrambled back over the high wall.  They had

to be careful because the priest mental discipline was such

that they could not be sensed in the Force.  Before Obi-Wan

could follow A'lia, he saw the priest returning and ducked

behind some trees. 


*"Obi-Wan?"* he heard A'lia whisper through the wall

after a few moments. 


*"The priest are back.  I'm going to have to slip away

and cross the wall somewhere else.  You head on back, I'll

get out and be there soon,"* Obi-Wan whispered in response.


*"Okay,"* A'lia agreed and Obi-Wan felt her presence

recede as she obeyed. 


Obi-Wan slid silently along in the shadow of the wall,

seeking to put some distance between himself and the

priests.  Suddenly a firm hand closed on his shoulder and

Obi-Wan felt his heart drop down into his toes. 

The tall, robed priest turned the young Jedi slowly,

but firmly around. 


*"Blast!"* Obi-Wan thought miserably.  He wished the

priests were not invisible to him in the Force, they never

could have caught him if they weren't.  Now he didn't know

what he was going to do.


There were suddenly four or five other priest present

as well, Obi-Wan had no idea where they all came from. 

"You are trespassing here, child of the Jedi," the man

who held Obi-Wan by the shoulder said in a low, calm voice. 


"I'm sorry."  What else could he say?


"It is a crime to touch the sacredness of our holy

ground, know you not of this?" the priest questioned, his

tone neutral, but his eyes sharp.


"No, I-I know," Obi-Wan admitted truthfully.  "I came

here looking for a friend.  I did not mean to trespass."


"But trespass you did," the priest said.  "And

punishment must follow such a transgression."


Obi-Wan bit the inside of his lip, but remained

outwardly calm.  He wasn't afraid of the priests, well,

maybe just a little.  What really had him worried was that

this was going to wreck their mission. 


"W-what will you do?" he asked slowly.


"That choice is up to you," the priest told him.  "If

you wish to insist that there is a justifiable reason for

your crime, we can take you to the magistrate.  He would

try you and if you are found guilty you and your guardian

will fined and have a censure placed upon you for the

remainder of your stay on Talteeri."


Obi-Wan felt a surge of panic rise in his heart. 

Whether he was found innocent or guilty, such a trial would

destroy everything they had worked to accomplish here! 

Once this became public knowledge, the thin trust that the

Jedi had managed to earn would be shattered and the entire

negotiations would fall to pieces.  "Or?" he asked



"Or," the priest continued, "If you admit your guilt,

we will punish you ourselves and send you on your way."


Obi-Wan considered this.  "If I chose the second

option, no one else needs to know?"


The priest inclined his head slightly.  "There is no

need, we do not wish public attention."


Obi-Wan took a deep breath.  "Then that is what I

chose.  I admit that it is wrong of me to be on your sacred

grounds without permission, and I accept whatever the

penalty is for trespassing."


The priest nodded.  "Remove your tunic and lie on the

ground child of the Jedi," he ordered quietly.


Obi-Wan obeyed.  His heart was pounding but he forced

himself to be calm as he unfastened his belt and removed

his outer tunic.  Pulling his inner shirt off over his

head, Obi-Wan knelt down on the grass.  *"What happens

now?"* he wondered.  Then he wondered if he really wanted

to know.


One of the priests pushed him the rest of the way down

until the young Jedi was lying flat on his stomach on the



Obi-Wan felt the priest's hands close tightly around

his wrists and was momentarily struck by the strength of

the older man's grip.  The Eeoa'lyn knelt in front of Obi-

Wan; holding the Padawan's wrists pinned to the ground on

either side of his head in a surprisingly secure manner. 


There was several moments wait as the priest that had

caught Obi-Wan stopped to cut a thick switch from one of

the bushes nearby.  He paired off the branches, but did not

try to make it entirely smooth. 


The ground pricked Obi-Wan's bare chest and the side

of his face as he waited.  The apprentice's mouth felt dry

and his heart was still pumping too fast.  He wasn't afraid

really, but he could not seem to help the body reaction he

was having.  If only they'd hurry up and get it over with,

waiting like this was terrible.


Obi-Wan would find that the Eeoa'lyn priests did

nothing in a hurry.  It seemed like an eternity from the

time they made him lie down, until the time when the first

stroke fell. 


Obi-Wan tightened and jerked a little as the rough

switch came down across his shoulders.  The priest

delivering the beating worked his way slowly and

methodically down the young Jedi's back, laying stripe

after stripe from Obi-Wan's shoulders to his waist. 

It stung like everything and Obi-Wan fought to blink

back the tears that gathered in the corners of his eyes.


A low moan escaped him as the priest moved back up to

his shoulders and went over the smarting area again, and

again.  By the fourth pass Obi-Wan had started squirming

and unintentionally pulling against the iron grip on his

wrists.  His struggles had no effect.  The priests held him

down firmly as the rod smacked his raw back again and

again.  Tears the apprentice could no longer hold back wet

the earth beneath him and he wondered how long this could



Obi-Wan's struggles grew desperate as the fifth set of

blows drew blood.  Choking back a sob and pressing his eyes

shut Obi-Wan tried to remain calm, but he couldn't.


The priest stopped after the fifth set and they

released Obi-Wan's wrists.


For a moment Obi-Wan just lay on the ground, sobbing

for breath and sobbing in pain.  He didn't want to ever

have to get up again, but he knew he must.  Pushing himself

up to his knees, Obi-Wan grimaced at the way the movement

made his burning back screech. 


"You will leave now," the priest said calmly, as if he

had not just beaten the teenager bloody.  "And you will not

return, or the penalty is doubled."


*"Don't worry!  I won't be coming back here again!"*

Obi-Wan thought ruefully.  "Yes, sir," was all he said

aloud.  Struggling to his feet he gathered his shirt, tunic

and belt and took his leave. 


Once outside the Eeoa'lyn walls, Obi-Wan stopped to

collect himself.  Leaning face first against the rough bark

of a tree he calmed himself until his heart rate and his

breathing returned to normal.  Breathing deeply and leaning

his face against the back of his hands, Obi-Wan tried to

figure out what he was going to do now. 


There was no way he could hide this from Qui-Gon. 

Well, maybe he could, but he didn't think he should.  Yet,

then Qui-Gon would want to know what had happened, and

after the promise he had made to A'lia, what could he tell



Obi-Wan sighed.  Why did this have to be so

complicated?  How had he gotten himself into this mess?  He

supposed he could blame A'lia for starting it all, but he

knew he probably had no business making a promise like the

one that he had made in the first place. 


Slowly and painfully putting his clothes back on, Obi-

Wan headed back towards the housing facilities that the

Jedi were staying in.  He still did not know what he was

going to do.





"Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon greeted when the apprentice slipped

into their rooms.  "I was just going to look for you.  The

owners of this establishment inform me that the gym is

empty today due to some cancellations and I have arranged

that we have some time to use it to do a little sparring. 

It's been too long since we've had the opportunity and I

don't want your physical training to suffer," the big Jedi

Master said cheerfully, he knew how Obi-Wan loved doing

anything with his lightsaber. 


Obi-Wan usually jumped at the invitation to a mock-

duel, but in his current condition the thought made him

cringe inside.  "Yes, Master, I'll go get changed," he

said, trying to sound enthusiastic. 


He almost hoped that Qui-Gon would notice something

amiss about him.  He almost wanted his Master to ask him if

anything was wrong, because then his decision was simple,

if Qui-Gon asked him, Obi-Wan was bound to tell him the

truth, or at least, as much of it as he could without

breaking his promise to A'lia.  For once however, Qui-Gon

seemed to notice nothing unusual, or if he did, he did not

chose to comment on it as of yet.


Obi-Wan sighed as he went to change into his workout

tunic.  It was ironic, he supposed, Qui-Gon sure noticed

things well enough when the apprentice *didn't* want him



Going into the 'fresher and locking the door, Obi-Wan

pulled off his tunic once more and found that he was going

to have to wash it.  The inner, rear side of his under

shirt was lightly stained with his blood.  Looking at

himself in the mirror, Obi-Wan winced at the sight of the

welts that striped his back like a Furr'arr's coat.  If he

didn't get medical attention for those, they could very

possibly leave scars. 


Wetting a cloth with cold water, Obi-Wan ran it

lightly over as much of his hurting back as he could reach. 

It did nothing to sooth the injuries, but the coolness of

the water helped bring down the heat of the flaming

sensation he was feeling and wash away the remaining blood

so that it would not stain his workout cloths like it had

his normal tunic.


Qui-Gon knocked on the door.


Obi-Wan jumped slightly in surprise.  He hadn't

realized he was so on-edge.


"I just need to get a towel," Qui-Gon's voice was

muffled by the door.  The handle rattled as Qui-Gon tried

to turn it.


"Just a minute!" Obi-Wan called, quickly wadding up

his cloths rinsing the blood out of the washcloth.  Sliding

gingerly into his workout tunic, he tied it loosely in an

attempt to minimize its contact with his throbbing back. 


He knew it was foolish to try to hide his injuries from his

Master, but the young apprentice did not yet know what else

to do. 


On the other side of the door Qui-Gon smiled in mild

amusement.  He knew that Obi-Wan was growing up, but his

sudden desire for so much privacy was a little puzzling. 

The boy was only changing his shirt for goodness sake...


The Jedi Master shook his head.  Who could fathom the

quirks of youth?  Especially during the teenage years. 


"Obi-Wan are you planning on taking up residence, or do you

want to let me get my towel and come out here so we can

practice?" Qui-Gon called through the shut door.


Obi-Wan hurried out, blushing slightly.  "Sorry,

Master," he mumbled an apology for making the elder Jedi



Qui-Gon nodded, and retrieved his towel.  Then the two

Jedi made their way down to the gymnasium on the ground

level of the temporary housing unit's complex. 


Easily sliding into his own workout tunic, Qui-Gon led

Obi-Wan out into the middle of the large gym's floor. 

After running through their stretches and warm-ups Qui-Gon

initiated the training duel.


Blue and green blades of light buzzed and tangled as

Master and Padawan sparred. 


Qui-Gon decided that it truly had been too long since

their last match.  Obi-Wan was not performing at the level

that Qui-Gon knew him capable of.  The boy moved stiffly

and actually seemed to be avoiding the more ariobatic moves

that he usually favored. 


Qui-Gon thought Obi-Wan would warm up to the fight as

it went on, but the Padawan's performance did not improve.


Obi-Wan's shoulders felt as if they were on fire as he

forced them to move.  The pain was distracting.  Too

distracting.  He missed an obvious feint and Qui-Gon's

elbow caught him squarely in the face, flinging him to the



There were no mats on the floor to help absorb his

fall and the Padawan's injured back slammed into it at full

force.  The sudden jolt of searing pain that that caused

made Obi-Wan cry out.  He was too stunned and breathless to

rise, and in too much pain to try.  Rolling onto his side,

Obi-Wan curled into a tight ball, biting the side of his

fist to choke back any further sounds and struggling

desperately to rein in the pain that was surging up and

down his back as if he had fallen in an open lava pit.


"Obi-Wan!" Qui-Gon said in concerned alarm as the boy

curled up on the floor, obviously in a great deal of pain. 

No doubt the blow Obi-Wan had caught had hurt, but it

shouldn't have hurt the apprentice *that* much.  Qui-Gon

was kneeling by Obi-Wan in an instant. 


Obi-Wan's nose was bleeding from the impact of Qui-

Gon's elbow, but that could not account for the waves of

pain he felt rolling off the teenager. 


*"What did I do to him?"* Qui-Gon thought, laying his

hand on the boy's shoulder and trying to look into Obi-

Wan's eyes.  When he caught them, Qui-Gon saw the

glistening sheen of unshed tears sparkling just below their

turquoise surface.  Had he so badly misjudged his own

strength and Obi-Wan's lack of practice? 


"Padawan," he said gently.  "What's wrong?  Did I hurt

you so badly?"


"N-no Master," Obi-Wan tried to force the pain away

and rose to a sitting position.  "I-I'm sorry Master." 

Obi-Wan was talking about more than just his reaction to

the fall.


Qui-Gon's brows were knitted in a frown of concern as

he hooked his hand under Obi-Wan's armpit to help him up. 


Obi-Wan stiffened slightly and drew a sharp breath in.


Something was not right here.  Not right at all. 

Before Obi-Wan could react, Qui-Gon pulled the Padawan's

tunic up, getting a good look at the red, blistering welts

that heavily striped the young Jedi's back from his

shoulders to his waistline. 


"Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon's voice was concerned and pained,

but also firm.  "What happened?"


Obi-Wan hung his head.  "I was beaten Master," he said

softly, his voice almost a whisper.


"That much is obvious," Qui-Gon undid Obi-Wan's shirt

and the Padawan dutifully removed it, allowing his mentor

to see the extent of what the Eeoa'lyn priests had done to

him.  "But who, when, why?" the older Jedi probed, gently

touching one of the stripes on Obi-Wan's shoulder. 


The young Jedi grimaced.  "The Eeoa'lyn priests caught

me on their holy ground," Obi-Wan replied honestly, his

eyes glued to the floor.  "I-I thought it would minimize

the possible repercussions on our mission if, if I just

took the punishment quietly and didn't let it go to the



"That was a worthy decision Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon said

quietly, and he meant it.  Obi-Wan's concern for the

success of their mission, even at cost to himself was

commendable.  "But what were you doing on the Eeoa'lyn holy

grounds in the first place?  Didn't I specifically warn you

to stay away from them?" the Master's voice became very



Obi-Wan swallowed hard, but was not sure what to say. 

"Yes, Master," he whispered.


Qui-Gon sighed.  "You weren't going to tell me about

this, were you?"  The disappointed edge in his voice cut

Obi-Wan's heart. 


Obi-Wan understood very well A'lia's fear of

displeasing her Master.  It was worse than physical pain

when Qui-Gon was disappointed in him.  At least Obi-Wan

knew that his Master still loved him.  Even if Qui-Gon was

sorely disappointed and upset with Obi-Wan, the Padawan

knew he was always loved.


"I-I don't know," Obi-Wan answered miserably.  "I

wasn't going to lie to you..."


"But purposefully concealing something is a lie of

omission Padawan," Qui-Gon pointed out.


Obi-Wan battled back tears.  "I'm sorry Master.  I'm

very sorry."


"You haven't yet told me what you were doing there

Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon could tell that Obi-Wan's repentance was

sincere, but the Master's voice still had an edge to it. 

Direct disobedience and lying to cover it up was a pretty

serious offence.  One he had hoped to never have to deal

with from Obi-Wan.


Obi-Wan bit his lip.  What was he supposed to say? 

What *could* he say?  "I... I can't tell you Master," he

choked out.


"Can't?" Qui-Gon said sharply.  "Or won't?"


"Can't."  Obi-Wan was truly miserable. 


"Obi-Wan..." the Jedi Master started, his tone a



"Please Master, I-I really can't tell you.  I would if

I could.  B-but I promised..." his voice trailed off,

wishing now that he could take the promise back, but what

was done was done and he was going to have to be true to

his word. 


"Someone else was there and you promised them you

would not tell," Qui-Gon surmised for him, folding his



Obi-Wan nodded mutely; he could not speak.


"Do you think you are doing them a favor by protecting

them from the consequences of their actions Padawan?" Qui-

Gon considered the bowed head and contrite countenance

before him.


"I-I really don't know Master," Obi-Wan shook his

head.  Lifting his eyes to meet Qui-Gon's, the apprentice

pleaded for the wisdom to deal with the complicated problem

he found himself facing.  Disappoint Qui-Gon, or betray his

promise to A'lia.  Which was the right thing to do?  "I may

be wrong, I don't know.  I wish I could talk to you about

it, I wish you could help me..."


Qui-Gon sighed.  "But you promised."


"Yes," Obi-Wan nodded miserably.  "I promised."  He

glanced fearfully at his Master.  "Master, you - you aren't

going to - to order me to tell you, are you?"  Obi-Wan

could not disobey a direct order, yet he could not break

his word either...


"No, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon said sadly.  "I know the kind

of position that would put you in and I will not order you

to break your word to anyone.  But I fear it was a foolish

promise to make Padawan."


There was silence for a moment. 


"Was the other party also beaten by the priests?" Qui-

Gon asked after a moment.


Obi-Wan shook his head.  "No, Master.  Just me."


Qui-Gon's eyes softened slightly.  "Then it seems to

me that you got the short end of all this Obi-Wan."


Obi-Wan said nothing.  What was he supposed to say?


"But that does not excuse you for trying to conceal it

from me, and unless the circumstances of your disobedience

clear you, which it seems there is no way for me to know,

it does not excuse you for that either," Qui-Gon's voice

became firm again.


Obi-Wan flinched.  "What are you going to do Master?"

he asked softly.


Qui-Gon sighed again.  "If you mean do *to* you

Padawan, nothing.  It looks as if you have been punished

quite enough already.  If you mean do about this

situation..." Qui-Gon paused.  That was a very good

question.  His father's heart wanted only to help Obi-Wan

heal and put it behind them.  Obi-Wan was obviously

repentant about whatever had taken place and Qui-Gon had

already forgiven him.  But he felt that duty dictated he

could not let this go that easy.  He had suffered the

consequences of glossing over a Padawan's faults before,

and although he knew Obi-Wan was nothing like Xanatos, it

had been a painful lesson to learn, and one that was not

easily forgotten.


"You are restricted to our quarters for the remainder

of our stay here.  You will not leave them for any reason

until we leave for Coruscant."


"But-" Obi-Wan's eyes widened. 


Qui-Gon held his hand up to silence the Padawan. 

"Yes, that includes not accompanying me to the meeting with

the Talteerians.  Obi-Wan, what you did was serious.  I

forgive you, but I cannot excuse your actions."


"I understand Master," Obi-Wan said softly, his heart

breaking at the thought of Qui-Gon going to the dangerous

meeting alone.  If anything happened...  Obi-Wan shuddered. 

It would be his fault.  If something went wrong and

anything happened to Qui-Gon because he was not there, he

would bear the blame forever.


"No, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon shook his head, clearly reading

the young man's thoughts in his face.  "You must not think

that.  I will be fine."  The Jedi Master allowed a small

smile to pull at his lips.  "I will have to be fine now,

because I could never punish you so severely as to have

such a guilt hanging over your heart," he ruffled Obi-Wan's

short hair fondly.  He couldn't stay stern with Obi-Wan for

too long.  He just couldn't.  "Now, let's go get that back

of yours treated."




Qui-Gon took Obi-Wan to the clinic but was called away

shortly thereafter, so he left Obi-Wan with strict

instructions to go straight to their rooms when the medics

were done. 


On his way out, Obi-Wan bumped into A'lia. 


"Obi-Wan," the other Padawan grinned hello.  "Master

Fioni sent me to run a message to the head medic.  What are

you doing here?"


"Um, getting treated," Obi-Wan did not meet her eyes.


"What for?" the young Correlian's dark eyes showed



"Nothing important," Obi-Wan hedged.  He did not wish

to tell her what happened after she left, it would make the

younger girl feel terrible and it couldn't be changed



"Okay, then after I'm done we can go get a fizzly or

something.  I can pay," she said proudly.  "I've got a few

credits saved, and after this errand I've got some free

time..." the eleven-year-old invited hopefully.  She wanted

to thank Obi-Wan for not tattling on her somehow.


"I can't A'lia," Obi-Wan shook his head. 


"Oh," the girl's face fell.  "You have work to do?"


"Not exactly," Obi-Wan sighed.  She was going to find

out eventually anyway.  "I have to go straight to our

rooms.  I-I'm being disciplined," he admitted with a touch

of embarrassment. 


A'lia's already large eyes went even rounder.  "B-

because you trespassed on the holy ground?  Master Jinn

found out about that?" her hands began to tremble in



"Shh, don't worry," Obi-Wan shook his head wearily. 

"I didn't tell him about you."


A'lia looked at him with such relief and gratitude

that Obi-Wan wondered if it really had been the right thing

to do after all.  "Thanks Obi, you're a real friend!  W-

What'd he do...?" she asked timidly.


Obi-Wan looked incredibly sad.  Despite what Qui-Gon

said, he was still gravely anxious about his Master going

to the talks alone.  "I don't want to talk about it right

now A'lia.  I'm supposed to go straight to our rooms, so

I'd better get moving.  I'll see you later."


"Okay, and Obi-Wan," she said, catching him before he

left.  "I'm sorry.  I'm really sorry you got in trouble

because of me..." her eyes spoke the truth of her words.


Obi-Wan shrugged, and then winced at the pain that

caused his still healing shoulders.  "Forget it."


A'lia delivered her Master's message to the head

medic, then paused to ask one of the nurse-droids a

question.  "Excuse me, but I just met my friend Obi-Wan

Kenobi coming out of here.  What was he being treated for?"


"Abrasions and lacerations of the epidermal tissue on

his upper and lower-"


Kali, the daughter of the medic who had treated Obi-

Wan stopped the droid's confusing explanation, seeing the

perplexed look on the other girl's face.  Kali was only a

year or so older than A'lia, they had met before and were

on friendly terms with one another.  "In plain basic, that

means that Mom applied bacta to some really nasty welts on

his back A'lia," she said, rolling her eyes at the droid's

high-tech speech.


"Welts?  Like, like he was hit with something?" A'lia

asked, alarmed. 


Kali nodded.  "A lot," she said with a shudder.  "His

Master brought him in.  I don't know what happened exactly,

I'm not supposed to hang around when Mom's with patients,

but I think I heard something about his being punished-"


A'lia's soft eyes were wide with horror and she dashed

out of the room, waiting to hear no more.  The only thing

she could think was that Master Jinn had beaten Obi-Wan for

his part in their little misadventure earlier and that's

why Obi-Wan wouldn't talk to her about it. 


Her feet flying, she ran all the way to Jinn and

Kenobi's rooms and pounded on the door. 


Qui-Gon opened the door and found a nearly hysterical,

out of breath little Padawan facing him.


"Shouldn't have - shouldn't have hurt Obi!" she shook

her head, tears beginning to spill down her cheeks.  "It

wasn't his fault Master Jinn, it wasn't!"


"Shh, shh, A'lia, calm down and come in," the big Jedi

ushered the frantic child inside and sat her down on the

couch.  "Now, what are you trying to say?"


"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry Master Jinn!" she sobbed. 

"This is all my fault!  I didn't want Obi-Wan to get in

trouble, honest!"


"So, you're the companion he wouldn't tell me about,"

Qui-Gon said softly as the pieces came together.  He had

suspected as much.


The little girl nodded miserably.  "I-I know I

shouldn't have been there Master Jinn, but-but those kids

dared me..." her voice trailed off, she knew it was a

stupid excuse.  "Obi-Wan followed to try to stop me, he

didn't do it to disobey, I did.  It's my fault, not his. 

I-I begged him to promise not to tell... I-I didn't know

you'd beat him for it..." she was sobbing so hard now that

her words were barely legible.


"Hush, child, hush," Qui-Gon soothed softly, pulling

the sobbing Padawan into his big arms.  "I'm glad you have

come forward and confessed, but you have things a little

turned around.  I did not beat Obi-Wan; I would *never*

beat Obi-Wan that way, no matter what he did.  He was

beaten by the Eeoa'lyn priest for trespassing, apparently

after you separated.  So, yes, he did suffer because of

your wrongdoing, but you must not think that I could ever

do such a thing to him, no more than Master Drenba could to



Obi-Wan had heard the commotion in the other room and

now stood quietly in the doorway, watching his Master and

little A'lia.  He was glad that A'lia had come forward.  It

was better this way he was sure, and besides, the secret

had been wearing on his conscience. 


Qui-Gon motioned for Obi-Wan to come in and the

Padawan obeyed. 


Obi-Wan was not wearing a shirt now, for comfort's

sake, and A'lia averted her eyes from the sight of the

cruel marks that the bacta had not yet finished taking



"I'm so sorry, so sorry," she murmured miserably.


Obi-Wan gave her a quiet smile to let her know that he

forgave her and sat down cross-legged on the floor by his



"A'lia," Qui-Gon said, gently, but with a firm tone. 

"You knew what you did was wrong, yet you tried to hide it

from your Master, and even got Obi-Wan to try to hide it

from me.  This got Obi-Wan into trouble he did not deserve. 

I know you know the need for taking responsibility for your

actions, so why didn't you tell Master Drenba about all



"I-I know it's the wrong reason," A'lia stammered,

starting to cry again.  "B-but I was afraid.  I want so

much for her to love me, to want me and accept me... now

she won't.  She's told me not to accept dares before, but I

did anyway.  Now she'll - she'll send me back to the



Qui-Gon shook his head, smiling sadly at the needless

terror that was tearing A'lia apart.  Now at least he

understood why Obi-Wan had agreed to silence for her.  His

Padawan knew far to well the feeling of anxiety that came

when one thought their Master did not want them, or did not

care for them.


"She will not send you away A'lia, and she will not

stop loving you," Qui-Gon assured.  "She will be distressed

by your actions, naturally, and may find it necessary to

discipline you, but that does not mean she does not love



A'lia shook her small head sadly.  "You don't

understand Master Jinn... I know..."


"A'lia, look at me," Qui-Gon caught the young girl's

eyes.  "I know that Master Fioni Drenba is a strict woman,

but you've got to look deeper than her outward appearance

and actions.  She loves you A'lia, I know this."


"I-I can't face her," A'lia cried, holding on tightly

to Qui-Gon and burying her small face in his tunic.


"Obi-Wan and I will go with you," Qui-Gon said gently

but firmly, picking the little girl up and placing her on

her feet.  "But you have to tell her the truth."


"Yes, Master Jinn.  I know," A'lia said with a

resigned sigh.  Drying her tears, she tried to muster a

bravery she did not feel and let Qui-Gon take her to hers

and Master Drenba's room.


Fioni listened in silence as A'lia told her the whole

story through a stream of controlled, but unstoppable

tears.  "Go to your room A'lia.  I will discuss this with

you further in a moment," Fioni said sternly when she



The little girl hung her head and obeyed.


"Thank you for your help Master Jinn," Fioni said to

the big Jedi.  "I am sorry that A'lia got your Padawan into

trouble.  I shall deal with her about this."


Qui-Gon nodded, but stopped Fioni with a hand on her

arm.  "Master Drenba," he said, his eyes soft.  "Do what

you feel is right, but... be sure to tell her that you love



"She knows that," Fioni said factually.


Qui-Gon shook his head.  "No, Fioni, she doesn't. 

Maybe she should, but you must remember that she is just a

child still.  She is insecure and admitted to me that she

is afraid that you will reject her if she does not please

you.  I know you care for her Fioni, but *she* doesn't."


Fioni looked shocked at the thought that A'lia would

think she could be so harsh and petty. 


"It's not a reflection of what she thinks of you,"

Qui-Gon put in.  "She respects you and loves you with all

her little heart, that's why she so badly craves the

assurance that you feel the same.  Obi-Wan and I went

through much the same thing in the beginning.  I thought

that *of course* he should know that I cared, but I was

looking at him as an adult, not as a child.  And children

need to be *told* they are loved."


"Thank you Qui-Gon," Fioni nodded slowly.  "What you

say is true."


"Then we will leave you to talk with her," Qui-Gon

said.  He and Obi-Wan both bowed, and left.


"A'lia," Fioni said softly, looking with pity upon the

downcast, trembling girl who sat upon the sleep-couch in

the other room.  "What you did was wrong.  It is foolish

and dangerous to do something you know is wrong simply

because someone else goaded or dared you to do it.  That is

not the path to true courage.  True courage is in standing

*against* such people."


"Yes, Master," A'lia whispered, her face pale.


Fioni sat down on the sleep couch beside her student. 

"But A'lia, before we discuss this any more, there is

something I need to tell you.  Something I should have told

you before this."


A'lia stiffed.  This was it.  Fioni didn't want her

anymore, she regretted taking such a worthless Padawan...


"I love you A'lia," Fioni said gently, wrapping her

arm around the little girl and drawing her close.  "That is

why I want you to learn to be the best Jedi you can be."


A'lia melted into her Master's arms, sobbing out all

the pent up emotions and anxieties that had been balling up

inside her for months. 


Fioni held her close, stroking her short hair and

letting her cry.  "It's okay honey, it's okay."




"Thank you Master," Obi-Wan said quietly as they

walked back to their own rooms.  "For helping A'lia.  I

tried to tell her that Master Drenba wouldn't reject her,

but she wouldn't believe me."


"She'll believe it from no one but her Master

Padawan," Qui-Gon said softly.  "Obi-Wan," he asked as the

door swished open to admit them.  "If you knew that Fioni

would not do as A'lia feared, then why did you agree to not

tell what happened?"


Obi-Wan chewed his lip thoughtfully.  "She - she was

so scared Master, and so sad...  I just didn't want her to

hurt anymore.  I suppose I went about it in the wrong way,

but I knew how she felt and I..." Obi-Wan's voice trailed

off as he realized he had just admitted that he had once

felt that Qui-Gon did not care about him. 


Qui-Gon laid one big hand gently on the boy's

shoulder.  "I know Obi-Wan," he nodded softly.  "I'm just

glad you know how I feel now."


Obi-Wan nodded.  So was he.


"Well, Padawan," Qui-Gon said presently.  "I think

you'd better get changed if you're going to accompany me to

the meeting with the Talteerians," he said with a twinkle

in his eye.


Obi-Wan's face lit up brightly.  "Yes, Master!  Right




Back to Jedi Apprentice Years Home