Summary: Pre-TPM. Qui-Gon learns something new Obi-Wan and the young Jedi learns something new about his master. Obi-Wan is about 13 years old.
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Disclaimer: Don't own anything or anyone. All the characters and their universe belong to George Lucas
Notes: Everything in // // is Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan talking through their bond.
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His fingers were cold and they slipped on the cool metal casing again dropping the cylinder with a clang onto the old wooden workbench.
"Kenobi!" he hissed quietly to himself as he picked up the empty lightsaber handle and set it back onto the small work platform before him.
It was freezing in the laboratory at this time in the morning. No one was up and he didn't dare turn on the heating unit, even on a good day the antiquated machinery sounded like it would burst apart at any minute. He hadn't been able to sleep, his thoughts going over and over the events of the previous day. The Padawans had been constructing lightsabers in the laboratory and the class had excelled at the task. Well, most of them had except for Obi-Wan. The parts were so small and delicate and the instruments and tools they had given him to work with were just as tediously small. His lightsaber was far from being constructed and when Qui-Gon had come to pick him up late that evening he had only nodded to Master Tegron when the instructor had informed him that Obi-Wan would need to return because he had not kept up with the class. He had silently escorted the Padawan back to their quarters and retired exchanging few words with his student.
Obi-Wan hadn't meant to be slow; it had just been harder for him than the other students. He had taken longer choosing his crystals, waiting until he 'felt' he had just the right combination. And the handle style he had chosen was of course one of the more complicated and detailed ones " he had a knack for choosing the unusual. But what had kept him awake last night was the look in his Master eyes, the frustration and disapproval. So the young man had snuck out of their apartment after his Teacher had fallen asleep intending to complete his task and surprise the man when he woke in the morning.
The tiny wires in the casing were not cooperating as he wove the tangle together trying to fit the jumble of components into a handle that seemed too small. The tool in his hand slipped and cut through the sensitive skin between this thumb and forefinger on his left hand. Yelping he jumped from his stool knocking the small workstation over onto the wooden table and spilling the contents of his lightsaber across its length.
Holding his hand tightly he rushed to the far wall and thrust his hand under the faucet of the sink in the back of the class. Bright red blood mixed with the water and flowed down the drain as he poured a stinging antiseptic over the open cut.
Near the door of the lab a large hand picked up one of the Padawans focusing crystals that had rolled into a corner and placed it in a deep pocket, lost in the folds of his brown robe. The man could hear the student muttering viciously to himself. He had in fact been in the shadows just outside the room now for sometime, his presence concealed in the force as he patiently watched the young man work.
"Damn! Why cant you do things right? Just once it would be nice, then maybe your Master would be pleased with you." He swiped at the faucet turning the water off and reached for a bandage. "You keep this up and you really will be sent back to Agri-Corps." The box of bandages tipped from the high shelf they were on and spilled over the floor, some landing in the sink where they immediately began to soak up water that still remained pooling in the bottom.
"What's wrong with me?" In frustration he lay his head down on top of his arms crossed atop the rim of the old sink, tears welling up in his eyes and falling silently into the water. It had been a long day and now an even longer night. He was tired, disappointed with himself and still nowhere near finishing his lightsaber than he had been hours ago. He had no idea what he would tell Qui-Gon.
The man standing in the entrance to the room could see the sobs of the young man as they shook his shoulders, his breathing catching in his throat and he fought to control his emotions. His thoughts unshielded burned into the force swirling around him in a chaotic jumble as he dealt with his fears of rejection and his self-hatred. Quietly the man picked up the Padawans robe from where it had been thrown over the back of a chair and approached the boy. His large hands gently caught the youth's shoulders and wrapped the shivering body in the warmth of the long garment.
With a start Obi-Wan jumped back against the person behind him. He hadn't realized he wasn't alone; his apology stammering out in a quick jumble was stopped as he turned around and saw who had joined him. The young mans eyes went wide and immediately his gaze fell to the floor at his feet.
"I'm sorry." He whispered. His breathing was still rough as he tried to stop the tears and quickly bring himself under control. Absently he pulled the edges of his robe tighter about him, his fingers playing with folds of the soft warm cloth. He couldn't face the man before him, and he didn't know what else to say.
Large fingers gently slid under his chin and tipped his head up. Reluctantly his eyes were forced to look into the blue ones gazing calmly down at him.
"Obi-Wan, what are you doing here?"
Of all the questions. The hand underneath his chin wouldn't let his gaze waver, so he closed his eyes and swallowed hard.
"I...I...I was trying to finish." He looked around the other to the table where he had sat, to his unfinished lightsaber in pieces again. "I'm sorry Master."
Master Qui-Gon nodded and followed his gaze, looking back to the jumble of pieces.
"How far did you get?"
"How far?" He repeated the question incredulously, couldn't his Master see for himself? "Well look at it Master."
In exasperation he raised his hand towards the mess he had made and winced as his cut was ripped open by the fast move.
"Let me have a look at that first Padawan." Qui-Gon caught the youth's hand in his own and brought it back over the sink. The tall man reached for the medical kit and gently began to clean away the dried blood. Spreading a cool ointment over the wound he applied a swath of gauze and covered the cut with a bandage. Obi-Wan had silently watched allowing the Master to help him. He was at the end of himself and his weariness had finally caught up with him. He glanced up at the older Jedi wondering what would happen next.
Qui-Gon walked back to the worktable and began gathering the strewn components easily arranging them around the casing. Obi-Wan moved quietly in behind him and watched him work. The big man took the tangle of wires and with fingers far larger than the students small ones he began to work them into an intricate braid. Blue eyes looked back over the tall Jedi's shoulder to find the young man watching intently as he wove them. He hooked a stool to his right with his foot and pulled it over next to him. As the boy sat down he handed him the unfinished weave and watched as the smaller fingers fumblingly tried to copy what he had done.
"Feel, don't think so hard. The wires will bend together don't force them." His large hand covered the small one as he worked the young boys fingers slowly and gently in the pattern of the braid.
Obi-Wan smiled as he began to understand, his fingers moving more surely as he completed the task. Nodding in approval, Qui-Gon stood and pointed to the stool before the casing. Hesitantly the student shifted over and sat with a sigh of determination before the unfisihed lightsaber.
"Like this Obi-Wan." Again the young man watched patiently as his Master leaned his large body around him working over the top of the youth and began to gently press the electrical wires around the components of the blade casing. Obi-Wan placed a small hand over the larger ones and they stilled.
"Let me try." He twisted his body and looked behind him and up at the Jedi Master bent over him.
With a smile Qui-Gon obliged watching quietly as his student deftly wrapped the units interior in the length of cabling. Silently the two worked side by side, at times the Master patiently showing the Padawan a better way, a different method of construction or a passed down secret. Obi-Wan caught up in the moment of learning and just quietly working with his Master was oblivious to the time or the tiredness that had weighed him down earlier. His contentment radiated through the bond he shared with the man sitting beside him who smiled gently to himself.
Finally they were to the point of placing the crystals in the barrel of the lightsaber. Qui-Gon pulled the wayward crystal from his pocket that he had picked up near the door and handed it to the student. The greenish stone glowed dully in the Masters hand and he raised an eye at the young man beaming beside him.
"That's why I picked it." He whispered conspiratorially. "Watch this." Obi-Wan scooped up the other two crystals and placed them next to the first in the palm of Qui-Gons upturned hand. Together they glowed a dull blue, seeming to resonate and gather light from each other.
"Very nice Obi-Wan." The older Jedi smiled approvingly at the excited Padawan.
"That's why it took me so long to pick them out. They just 'felt' right."
"Lets see if they work right shall we?" He poured them back into the eager hands of his student and crossed his arms idly as he watched the young man work. Obi-Wan tried several combinations, first the white one then the green one then the deep indigo one. Finally he placed them indigo, white, green and this time they glowed more brightly humming softly together.
"That's perfect Padawan." Qui-Gon reached around and stilled the youth's hands with one of his own. "Now seal the casing using the force."
The Jedi Master let his presence envelope the young man. He felt his student's tentative grasp on the force as he brought the power around them. His Padawan, this one, would be strong in the force and a formidable warrior, he could tell it, he could feel it as the light of the force danced around them. Opening his eyes he watched as the seam between the two halves of metal sealed themselves bound into one by the force. As the last of the visible seam melded Obi-Wan released the power around them and sighed in exhaustion, his eyes slowly opening to see the weapon lying on the table. Qui-Gon could feel his weariness; his Padawan had had no sleep this night.
"Try it out." He whispered into the young mans ear and stepped back to allow the student to stand. Slowly stiffly Obi-Wan stood the saber held in his hand. Holding his breath he depressed the shiny mauve button on the side and was immediately rewarded with the snap-hiss of a fully functioning blue blade of light.
"Of course it works. Why did you doubt?"
Fascinated with the color of the weapon as he slowly shifted the blade back and forth, he stopped and sobered at the question. He thumbed the saber off and turned back to his Master.
"I was so slow. I wanted you to be proud of me and I knew that last night you were not."
Qui-Gon nodded slowly in understanding and directed the young man to sit in one of the study chairs. He knelt in front of the boy and took the weapon from his hand placing it on the stool behind him. Laying his hands gently on the small shoulders he looked directly into the Padawans eyes.
"Listen to me young one and never forget." Sea green eyes locked fiercely onto his own blue ones. "I will never send you back to Agri-Corps. I will never be disappointed in you because you are slower than those around you. I am proud of you Padawan, very proud of you."
Obi-Wan's eyes were overly bright and he was finding it hard to breathe.
"The reason I was short with you last night was because I had a severe headache brought on, not by you young one, but by that insufferable council member who calls himself my friend." He ran one hand slowly across the back of his neck as he shook his head in remembrance of his time in the Council Chambers, "Why I put up with him sometimes..." His muttering was stopped as a small hand touched his arm.
"I thought you were disappointed with me. Master Tegron told you I was slow."
"Obi-Wan," the Jedi Master took the boys face in his hands, his large thumbs wiping away the tears as they tracked down the students face, "slow is not a bad thing. Many things are done well only if they are done slowly. We are negotiators, we aide people in reconciliation and peace, this is a thing done slowly and not in haste. You are not slow my Padawan, you are however very detailed." He smiled at the youth, retrieving the lightsaber and turning it over in his hands. "Did you have to pick the most intricate design for your weapon?"
"I just wanted to impress you." He smiled at the older man.
"And you have young one. You have. I am so very proud of you." He stood up and pulled Obi-Wan into his arms, holding him tightly to him. The young boy relaxed into the embrace allowing himself to just be held.
Qui-Gon could feel his apprentice as his tiredness over took him and gently stepped back out of the touch. Bending down to see into the sleepy eyes, he smiled and ruffled the young boys hair, "I say we get you home before you fall asleep and I have to carry you. I think Master Tegron will be more than happy to excuse you for the day."
Obi-Wan looked back at him and nodded. He gathered his robe and his newly fashioned weapon and walked with his Master out of the laboratory, the lights dimming behind them as the sensors noted their absence.
"Thank you Master."
"You are very welcome my Padawan." Qui-Gon wrapped an arm around the young shoulders and pulled the student closely to him as they walked back to their apartments.