An alternate possibility for JA 8.
Title: Test of Faith
Category: JA sequel (sort of), Short Story, Hurt/Comfort, Drama, AU with JA 8
Spoilers: For the JA books, especially 2, 5 and 7
Disclaimer: All recognizable Star Wars characters are the
exclusive property of George Lucas. Credit also goes to Jude Watson
and Scholastics Books. All others belong to me.
I have no official permission to use these characters, but
I'm not being paid for it either, so that's okay.
Same goes for the song in the beginning which belongs to the Backstreet
Boys and some recording studio that I can't remember.
Feedback: Yes Please!
Time Frame: 12 years before TMP and directly after JA 7. Obi-Wan is 13.
Summary: Things go amuck on Telos, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon have a blow-up,
Xanatos gets a hold of Obi-Wan and traps him in a horrible place.
In the end, the only way Qui-Gon can save Obi-Wan's life is to restore
the broken trust between them.
Things bracketed by *'s are *italic*.
Long sections bracketed by //* means it's a flashback.
-Test of Faith-
Show me the meaning of being lonely,
Is this a feeling I need to walk with?
Tell me why I can't be there where you are?
There's something missing in my heart.
There's nowhere to run,
I have no place to go.
Surrender my heart, body and soul.
How can it be you're asking me
To feel things you never show?
Obi-Wan shivered with intense cold. His muscles
spasmed in protest against the bitter chill and it was all
he could do to keep his teeth from rattling like a set of
But it was more than mere physical cold which assailed
him. No, it was something far more treacherous, and far
Dark energy filled the deep pit he was trapped in,
surrounding the young Jedi, screaming fear and hatred at
him so loudly it was almost audible.
"Feeling cold, little Jedi?" Xanatos' cool, taunting
voice flowed like an icy waterfall from the darkness above.
Obi-Wan ignited his lightsaber, the bright blue blade
casting only a dim light in the shadowy blackness.
"Xanatos," he said quietly, through shivering lips. His
voice reverberated hollowly against the frozen walls of the
narrow pit that threatened to become his tomb.
Ignoring the Dark Jedi's voice for a moment, Obi-Wan
sought a way out of this death trap. The sides of the
circular cavity were so narrow that he could stretch out
his arms and the fingers of both hands brushed lightly
against the frosty earth.
Cutting a swath out of the side of the narrow well
with his lightsaber, Obi-Wan attempted to make handholds,
but the loose earth crumbled under his fingers, refusing to
hold the slightest weight. The pit was deep, far to deep
to jump out of, even with Force help, and the dark void
that Xanatos had created here seemed to dampen his
Looking up, Obi-Wan could just see the small pinprick
of sky that marked the opening to this hole, several
hundred meters above his head.
"Out of reach little Padawan," Xanatos' cold voice
mocked him again, filling the air with hatred until it made
Obi-Wan's head hurt. "You won't get out that way. In
fact," the heartless voice continued. "You won't get out
The apprentice could not see Xanatos and did not know
how the older man could see him, but apparently he could.
"D-don't count on it," Obi-Wan said stubbornly, trying in
vain to keep the chilled stutter out of his voice.
"Not waiting for your precious Master to save you I
hope?" Xanatos' voice filled the small space like a dark
cloud. "Not after what happened back there in Thani."
Deep, heart-wrenching pain stabbed Obi-Wan in the
chest at the memory. Somehow, he got the impression that
his unseen captor was smirking. Xanatos had studied Obi-
Wan, he knew how to hurt him.
It still seemed impossible. Never in a thousand
lifetimes would Obi-Wan ever have thought that Qui-Gon
could abandon him like this, but the image of the tall Jedi
Master turning his back on the dumbfounded boy and walking
away was indelibly etched into Obi-Wan's minds' eye.
*"It's your own fault,"* the accusing voices in Obi-
Wan's head told him. *"He warned you all along, he told
you there was no trust between you anymore. Why should you
be surprised that he acted on it?"*
Why indeed? Because a part of Obi-Wan hadn't believed
it, hadn't allowed himself to believe it. He had been so
sure that things would work out between he and Qui-Gon, so
sure that he could regain the elder Jedi's trust.
They had overcome the obstacles between them once when
Qui-Gon had finally taken him as Padawan in the first
place, before Melida/Daan, and Obi-Wan felt certain that
they could again, until now. Only this time, it was Qui-
Gon, and not Obi-Wan who had done the walking out.
*"And why shouldn't he walk out on you?"* the voices
said contemptuously. *"You did it to him. And you're not
even his Padawan now, you're not even a Jedi, you're just
on parole, he has no obligation to you."*
As if mirroring the accusations in Obi-Wan's tortured
mind, Xanatos' voice drifted down to him, cold and cutting.
"You see I was right in the end. He is heartless after
all. Bringing you all this way, raising your hopes only to
dump you at the first test. Perhaps it's better for you to
find it out now, up front, not like I did, not in the end,
after I'd given heart and soul to him, only to find it
trampled on and torn to pieces! Face it Kenobi, he'll
never trust you, he'll never like you, you'll never be good
enough for him, no one is and no one ever will be, you'd
have gone mad trying."
Obi-Wan pressed his lips together in a tight line, his
grip tightening savagely on the handle of his lightsaber.
"Everything you've ever said has been a lie Xanatos!" he
barked at his unseen tormenter. "Qui-Gon did not betray
you. You betrayed him! Just like I did," the young Jedi's
voice dropped miserably, choked by the huge lump in his
His cheek throbbed with the memory of Qui-Gon's large
hand making stinging contact with it. Obi-Wan knew he had
been an idiot to say what he did, but it was too late for
regret now. Too late. Why did he always realize the
consequences of his actions and choices too late?
//*"I'm sorry Obi-Wan. I thought we could work
together, I thought... but it seems I was wrong." Qui-
Gon's deep blue eyes were etched with pain, and defeat.
Obi-Wan's lips tried to form words, tried to explain,
to deny what Qui-Gon was thinking, what it looked like he
had done, but his voice refused to work.
"I have a job to do," Qui-Gon's voice became tense.
"I don't know what you're going to do," Qui-Gon turned his
back on the boy and walked away, leaving him alone in the
middle of the huge, empty courtyard. Qui-Gon did not say:
"And I don't care," but as far as Obi-Wan was concerned he
might as well have.
It was after that that Xanatos came... Obi-Wan was
good, but the emotionally disturbed thirteen-year-old
Padawan was not up to facing a full grown man with a
Knight's skill level. Not alone.
Obi-Wan had trusted Qui-Gon, and the elder Jedi left
him alone to face a darkness that was greater than he was
yet prepared to deal with.*//
Betrayal. Broken trust. Obi-Wan knew how that felt
now, like a burning pain, ripping his insides out. Is this
what he had done to Qui-Gon on Melida/Daan? No wonder the
big Jedi would never trust him again. No wonder he was so
quick to judge...
"Then you got what you deserved boy," Xanatos said
Obi-Wan hated to agree with anything the Dark Jedi
said, but in this case, he feared Xanatos was right.
"Ironic isn't it? That in the end, he betrayed you
the same way you betrayed him?" Xanatos continued
mercilessly. "As you said, we're not that different you
and I. We did the same thing, and he hates us both for it.
We are no different..." Xanatos' voice echoed chillingly.
"No!" Obi-Wan cried, hoarse with cold and emotion. "I
am not like you and I never will be! I let Master Qui-Gon
down, I betrayed his trust, I made the wrong decisions, but
I would never and will never yield to the darkness that
grips your soul Xanatos!"
"Then you are weak as well as foolish young one!"
Xanatos flared. "What is there in life for you now?!" he
demanded, his voice as hard as permisteel and as cutting as
a vibro-shiv. "Qui-Gon has rejected you, betrayed you,
left you completely at my mercy. Left you to face *his*
enemy, alone. If he does not believe you, if he rejects
you, what do you think the Jedi Council will do? What do
you think your actions in Thani are going to make them
think? You're only on probation as it is, this will finish
you forever with the Jedi and you know it. What do you
think you're going to do with your life Obi-Wan Kenobi?
You've got nothing and no one who believes in you and no
way to survive on your own." Xanatos laughed as if he
found the situation amusing.
Obi-Wan's throat was swelled so tight he could barely
breathe and there was a terrible ache in his chest. Tears
he couldn't keep back slipped out of his eyes, only to
freeze halfway down his cheeks.
Xanatos' words cut him far deeper than he would like
to have acknowledged. *What in the Force WAS he going to
"You're w-wasting your breath Xanatos!" Obi-Wan
shouted, this time glad that he could pass his trembling
voice off as an effect of the cold. "I know what you're
trying to do and you'll never get me to turn!"
"Don't flatter yourself," Xanatos sneered. "I have no
intention of trying to do anything with you. You've been
far too bothersome to me for that. All I'm doing is
letting you know why you should be thankful that you don't
have a future to worry about anymore Kenobi, because if you
did, it would end here. I'm going to enjoy watching you
die little Jedi, and so will Qui-Gon," Xanatos said the
last in a grim, but satisfied whisper that Obi-Wan barely
heard and didn't have time to try to understand.
Suddenly a creeping sensation ran up Obi-Wan's chilled
spine. An instant later hundreds of glowing eyes regarded
him from the numerous small holes in the pit's walls that
he had barely noticed before.
He scarcely had time to bring his lightsaber up before
dozens of small beasts with glowing eyes and long, wicked
fangs and claws sprang at him.
Obi-Wan tried to repel their attack, tried to slash at
them with his lightsaber, but there were dozens and dozens
of them, possibly hundreds, and they just kept coming,
driven by their own ferocious instincts and Xanatos' dark
Needle-like fangs dug into his leg, his arm, his neck
and razor claws tore at him with a vengeance.
Obi-Wan stumbled, his body numb with the cold, but
burning from the many bites and slashes the creatures
inflicted upon him. The tiny space he was in did not allow
him any room to maneuver, and now the crazed beasts were
dropping down from the walls above him as well.
Landing on the young Jedi's head, the creatures clawed
his face and repeated sets of teeth sank into his neck like
burning needles, making Obi-Wan yell in pain as he
struggled frantically to shake the beasts off him.
There must have been venom in the creatures' bites
because Obi-Wan felt a terrible, burning fatigue take over
his frozen muscles and a nauseous light-headedness made the
darkened world spin around him. He was slowly succumbing
to the poison, the pain and the cold. He had never
imagined it ending this way, but as his senses started to
leave him he had no time for regret, no time to feel
anything but the burning pain and the freezing cold.
Xanatos' cold laughter echoed icily around the torn,
bleeding young Jedi as consciousness fled and darkness
Qui-Gon ran a hand through his hair, trying to force
his swirling thoughts to come to some kind of order.
He should have listened to Obi-Wan at least before
walking away. He knew that. He was a Jedi Master and he
had no business behaving like a wounded teenager.
It was all just so painful... Obi-Wan had disobeyed
him, purposefully disobeyed a direct command and risked
giving them both away to Xanatos.
Qui-Gon was trying to rebuild his relationship with
the boy; he had all but announced his intention to take him
back as Padawan. Then this happened and his tenuous trust
was shattered all over again.
The Master shook his head wearily. He had responded
badly, and he knew it, but it was like Melida/Daan all over
A sigh escaped him. It was no good. He had thought
they could rebuild, mend the tear between them, but saw now
he was wrong.
Obi-Wan was strong and bright, a good boy and an apt
pupil, but Qui-Gon could understand the hesitancy the
Council had over his impulsive nature now. It was not a
deadly flaw by any means, but Qui-Gon realized that he
could not be the one to train the boy. It was not all Obi-
Wan's fault either. Qui-Gon knew he bore just as much of
Disobedience was a serious infraction, but there was
hardly a Padawan alive who hadn't broken the rules at one
time or another. Before Melida/Daan, Qui-Gon would have
been disappointed and upset, but now...
There was still no trust between them, no cushion to
pad the blow and Qui-Gon had shattered. He let his
emotions take control of him and had walked out on Obi-Wan.
The Master knew there was no excuse for such behavior.
There was nothing that a Padawan could do which should
warrant abandonment like that. Obi-Wan was not his Padawan
anymore, but he was still a younger Jedi who had been under
the Master's protection.
No, as much for Obi-Wan's sake as for his, they could
no longer be a pair. Obi-Wan did not deserve a Master who
could desert him so easily, who could let his feelings
override his brain. And Qui-Gon could not live with a
Padawan he could not trust, no matter how much he loved
Still, it had been wrong to leave him, and Qui-Gon
intended to put that right. Retracing his steps to the
crumbling courtyard where he had left Obi-Wan nearly an
hour before, Qui-Gon tried to figure out what he was going
to say. Giving up on that, he decided he would cross that
bridge when he got there.
Of course, Obi-Wan was no longer in the courtyard.
Qui-Gon really hadn't expected him to be. The boy would
probably have made his way back to their quarters in the
*"You're stalling Jinn,"* he reprimanded himself.
*"You've failed the boy so far, get back there and do at
least one thing right for a change."*
Yet Qui-Gon could not seem to get his legs to obey
him, and stood still in the deserted ruins, his mind
replaying, without permission, the last exchange between he
and his former apprentice, which had taken place here.
//*"Did you learn nothing from Melida/Daan?" Qui-Gon
demanded, his voice harsher than he intended it to be.
"Don't you realized the jeopardy your actions have put us
in? When I tell you something I do not do it to hear
Obi-Wan opened his mouth, but Qui-Gon cut him off with
a wave of his hand.
"No, I don't want to hear any excuses. Wisdom, Obi-
Wan, is in knowing when to listen to others who have more
experience and knowledge than you, and obedience is part of
that. A part that you seem to have a great deal of trouble
It had been a cutting remark with no really beneficial
purpose and Qui-Gon kicked himself for it.
//*There were unshed tears in Obi-Wan's eyes, but behind
the shimmer, a fierce fire sprang to life. Qui-Gon's words
cut deep into the wounds the young Jedi was still carrying
around with him. The Master wasn't even letting him
explain what really happened! Did Qui-Gon think so little
of him that he automatically assumed the worst?
"Then why are we here?" Obi-Wan bit back, more out of
pain than true anger. "The Council told you not to go, not
to search Xanatos out, but here we are! Or are you only
interested in obedience if it goes with whatever you think
should be done?!" Obi-Wan was out of line and he knew it,
but the words left him before he could stop them and once
out, he refused to apologize for them.
Qui-Gon's eyes narrowed. The whole situation here had
him tense, agitated and uncertain. "You will not speak to
me in that manor Obi-Wan, it is unbecoming a Jedi," he said
with forced calm.
"So?" Obi-Wan asked, despair making him impudent. "Am
I a Jedi anymore? Everyone seems determined to remind me
that I may not be. Or am I only a Jedi when it suits your
purpose, or the Council's? When they want to say: "this is
what a Jedi would or would not do"?" The uncertainty and
loss of identity that had been tearing the young man apart
for these past weeks burst out of him in a heated rush.
"I'm not enough of a Jedi for you to trust, just enough to
order around, is that it?" It was a stupid thing to say.
A very stupid thing, but all Obi-Wan's frustration had just
seemed to bubble up at once and it was out before the boy
could call it back.
Qui-Gon's eyes flashed and he slapped Obi-Wan with an
open hand, not hard, but firmly.*//
It was, perhaps, no more than such a blatantly
disrespectful statement warranted, but had he done it to
discipline, or out of anger?
Qui-Gon agonized over the question, reliving the
moment. He couldn't remember.
What he could remember were Obi-Wan's blue-green eyes
filling with tears that the thirteen-year-old only just
kept from falling.
//*Hurt, anger and confusion mingled on the young Jedi's
face as he held his smarting cheek, refusing to meet
Qui-Gon backed off, what in the Sith was he doing?!
"I'm sorry Obi-Wan," he said softly, meaning so much more
than just the blow. "I thought we could work together, I
thought... but it seems I was wrong." Qui-Gon's deep blue
eyes were etched with pain, and defeat. He was losing
control of himself. If he could react this way, then he
had no business trying to train a Padawan.
That was not the message that came through to Obi-Wan.
To him it seemed that Qui-Gon was rejecting him because of
his perceived misdeeds.
The boy's lips tried to form words, tried to explain,
to deny what Qui-Gon was thinking, what it looked like he
had done, but his voice refused to work. Would Qui-Gon
really leave him?
"I have a job to do," Qui-Gon's voice became tense.
He had better leave now; he was only going to make things
worse if he continued to lose control this way. "I don't
know what you're going to do," he turned his back on the
boy and walked away, leaving Obi-Wan alone in the middle of
the huge, empty courtyard.*//
Qui-Gon started as a flicker of dark, menacing evil
interrupted his unhappy memories. He knew whose it was, by
now he recognized the dark trail that Xanatos left.
The Jedi's senses pricked up, searching, probing...
but no, Xanatos was not here, but he had *been* here, not
too long ago, and for some reason, he wanted Qui-Gon to
know he had.
Qui-Gon's stomach froze. Obi-Wan. Had Xanatos come
upon Obi-Wan, all alone here? Had he left Obi-Wan in such
danger and not realized it?
Something resting on the ledge of one of the
courtyard's crumbling walls caught his attention. As he
approached, Qui-Gon realized that it was meant to catch his
attention and the Force signature was definitely Xanatos'.
A sleek black cylinder, roughly the size and width of a
shoebox, sat on the old wall as if daring him to pick it
Qui-Gon regarded it cautiously before approaching. He
knew that Xanatos had a penchant for explosives and had no
wish to be blown sky high by some kind of booby trap. Yet
somehow, he doubted that Xanatos would be so obvious.
When he was about three paces away from the object, a
holo image, activated by the motion of his approach,
flicked on and Qui-Gon found himself confronted with a
three-quarters-life-size image of his fallen former
*"Greetings, Master Qui-Gon,"* Xanatos' voice turned
the title into a mockery. *"You came here looking for that
little brat you drag along with you, didn't you? I'm sorry
to say he can't join you, but then, you're probably not too
sorry to hear it. I've done you a favor really. Dealing
with him is obviously nothing but a headache for you. Was
any apprentice ever anything but a thing to you? An object
for you to use, and then discard if they got in your way?"*
Xanatos taunted him from the holo, obviously the fallen
Jedi still liked to hear the sound of his own voice.
*"I grow weary of this continued pursuit of yours.
Time and again you and that boy have gotten in my way.
Well, no more. I don't think you care, but would you like
to know what happened to the boy? Just for curiosities
sake?"* Xanatos carried on the conversation just as if Qui-
Gon were really before him.
*"No? My, my Qui-Gon, you are heartless. Well, watch
and see anyway. See what you left him to face alone when
you walked out on him and betrayed all the misguided trust
he put in you. Watch and see..."*
Xanatos' image wavered and disappeared, replaced by
that of Obi-Wan. The boy was obviously unaware that he was
being recorded. His neck was craned up as if in
conversation with someone above whom Qui-Gon could not see.
Qui-Gon saw Obi-Wan press his lips together in a tight
line, his grip tightening savagely on the handle of his
lightsaber. *"Everything you've ever said has been a lie
Xanatos!"* he heard the apprentice shout upward at his
unseen tormenter. *"Qui-Gon did not betray you. You
betrayed him! Just like I did,"* the young Jedi's voice
dropped miserably, choked by the huge lump in his throat.
Qui-Gon's heart wrenched.
*"Isn't that touching?"* Xanatos' voice sneered,
cutting in over the recording. *"After all you did to him,
he was still so loyal to you. Stupid maybe, but oh, so
loyal, even after you dumped him. You didn't deserve one
like that Jinn, you'd have destroyed him like you destroyed
me."* Xanatos' voice was dark and angry now.
Qui-Gon did not like the way Xanatos kept using past
tense; it made a creeping fear rise up inside him like a
Qui-Gon saw the glowing eyes appear around Obi-Wan,
saw the boy's desperate struggle to survive, saw, in the
end, the hideous swarm overcome Obi-Wan.
*"No!"* his heart cried desperately. *"No!"* but
there was nothing he could do but stand there and watch the
horrible specter in tortured silence.
Xanatos' spectral form floated down from above and the
creatures scattered as if on cue, leaving Obi-Wan lying
senseless on the ground, his blood pooling beneath him.
Was he dead? Qui-Gon couldn't tell. It seemed to the
Master as if his heart had stopped beating, as if his blood
had turned to ice in his veins.
*"Did you enjoy this Master Jinn?"* Xanatos mocked
bitterly. *"What's the matter? Too weak to cut him out of
your life the same way you cut him out of your heart? It
is you that have killed him Qui-Gon; I merely serve as your
executioner."* Xanatos ignited his crimson blade, raising
it ominously above Obi-Wan's still form as he spoke.
Abruptly he let it fall, arcing downward with deadly
The picture disappeared with a buzz of static and a
small compartment in the side of the black case popped
open. A dull, cylindrical object rolled out and fell to
the ground below. Qui-Gon stooped to pick it up stiffly,
his mind frozen in horrified grief, his body moving on auto
pilot. He already knew what it was before his fingers
closed around it.
It was Obi-Wan's lightsaber.
The handle was stained red and slippery with blood
that had not yet dried. Obi-Wan's blood. Fear clung to it
like a living essence. Fear and pain.
Qui-Gon's hands tightened around the stained hilt
until his knuckles turned white. *"Xanatos,"* he breathed
the word bitterly, as if it were the worst curse he could
Sheer, crushing guilt slammed down upon his shoulders.
Yoda had been right. He was going after Xanatos for
personal reasons. Not revenge, he didn't want revenge, he
wanted him stopped, but how much had he been willing to
sacrifice to achieve that goal? Was it worth this? Was
Xanatos right? Had his pride, his loss of control earlier
and his lack of trust killed Obi-Wan?
Qui-Gon stared numbly at the lightsaber in his hands,
haunted by the ghost of the earnest, bright-eyed boy it had
belonged to only a few short hours ago.
Pain. Terrible, burning pain. Obi-Wan had expected
death, but death could not hurt this much, unless he was in
hell. He moaned softly and opened his eyes.
Wherever he was it was pitch black, and he could see
nothing. A rustling whisper, like wind, only it seemed
alive, moved in the eerie silence.
Obi-Wan tried to roll onto his side, tried to rise,
but found himself utterly powerless to move. He was not
sure if he were bound down, or if his body simply refused
to respond to his commands. He hurt everywhere, yet
somehow his mind told him that he was no longer suffering
from the injuries he had received in the pit. That didn't
make sense, but nothing made sense yet.
"Whe-Where am I?" he asked hoarsely, almost more with
the Force than with his uncooperative voice. An
inexplicable chill of terror that he could not control ran
up his spine.
*"Nowhere,"* a deep, raspy voice hissed from out of the
darkness. *"We are neither here, nor there, but we exist."*
Obi-Wan started, not having expected a response, or at
least, he *would* have started, had he been able to move,
which he wasn't. "X-Xanatos?" he asked, feeling that
strange terror wash over him again. That hadn't sounded
"Calling me little Jedi?" Xanatos stepped from the
blackness, somehow illuminated by an eerie light that lit
"Were am I? I thought you were going to kill me,"
Obi-Wan asked, his voice slurred slightly with pain. His
mouth felt dry and his tongue too large. He didn't bother
demanding that the dark Jedi let him go, because he knew
Xanatos would only laugh. It would be a waste of breath,
and Obi-Wan didn't have a lot to waste right now.
"Well, I was considering it, but then it would be over
too quickly," Xanatos said with an evil grin. "Besides, my
friends here have been of great help to me, I've been
promising them a reward, a sacrifice, for some time.
You're a perfect candidate. You see, the Therdaks live on
plain that's not quite the same as the one we understand.
We're not exactly on Telos anymore, at least, not in the
sense that we were, but we're not in their home-place of Dakia
either, we're... in between, in limbo. Therdaks feed only on
Force-power. Where they come from they can drink it out of
the air, out of the ground, out of anything. Here in our
realm however, the Force is not so readily abundant, or at
least, not so tappable. The Therdaks are strong, and make
powerful servants, but they're hungry Obi-Wan," Xanatos'
eyes burned with sadistic fire. "But they won't be for
much longer. You see my friends?" Xanatos turned to face
the darkness. "Do I not always give what I promise?"
A rumble sounded from out of the darkness, but Obi-Wan
could not exactly tell what it meant.
Xanatos smiled down at the helpless boy on the floor.
"Enjoy your stay, Obi-Wan Kenobi." With that, he turned
and left, once more leaving Obi-Wan in complete darkness,
surrounded only by the thrumming breathing of the Therdaks.
The young Jedi could not be sure, but it felt like there
were three or four of them.
Somehow, being lunch for hungry alien beings was not
Obi-Wan's idea of a good time. He tried desperately to
rise, to fight, to do *something*, but he couldn't even
twitch his fingers. Dark terror engulfed him as he felt
the Therdaks move towards him like giant beetles.
Something cold and clammy touched his arm and a sharp
jolt of pain made him gasp. More touches, like tongues of
fire, covered his body, absorbing his strength, sucking it
out of him. The young Jedi realized that it was not his
flesh they wanted, but the power of the Force that flowed
The touch of their proboscises was excruciating, and
Obi-Wan could feel his strength and life being sapped
slowly out of him as he screamed in pain.
He felt sure they would drain him dry, drinking in his
Force and life essence until they killed him, but the
Therdaks apparently had other plans. Just when the young
Jedi thought he could take no more, they relented. Backing
away, they left him totally drained and weaker than he had
ever felt in his life.
Time seemed to stand still here, he had no clue how
long he lay there, it could have been hours, it could have
been weeks. Slowly, he felt his strength returning to him.
When he began reaching near normal levels once more, he
heard that same, ominous rustle in the darkness.
*"Oh, Sith!"* his tortured body revolted as the
Therdaks moved slowly towards him. He couldn't even
struggle as the whole, horrible process started all over
again, all he could do was try to choke back the agonized
cries that the pain of being fed upon by four hungry
Therdaks inflicted on his young body.
This was the fate that Xanatos had in mind for him
then, to be a kind of living buffet, which the Therdaks
could drain to their fill, and after he recovered, they
could feast again.
Obi-Wan could think of no more horrible fate. How
like Xanatos, he thought grimly. Leave it to him to kill
two birds with one stone. Feed his helpers, and torture
his enemy at the same time, efficient in an evil way. Most
Qui-Gon washed Obi-Wan's lightsaber gently and hung it
up in his quarters. The boy was gone now, and there was no
way to set right all that was wrong between them. No
opportunity to straighten out the tangle that had knotted
up their relationship. No chance to ask forgiveness for
the way they parted.
How had things gone so wrong? How had what should
have been so simple become so hopelessly impossible? Qui-
Gon didn't know. Somehow none of it made sense anymore.
None of what used to seem so important, the issues of trust
he had struggled with, the doubts he had had about both
himself and the boy, none of that seemed to matter now, if
only he could have Obi-Wan back...
It was true that one never quite realized the value of
what they had, or how desperately they needed it, until it
was taken away from them.
Qui-Gon palmed the door open. Wallowing in his regret
and despair would do no good. It was time to stop all this
cloak and dagger. Xanatos already knew he was here. It
was time to confront the dark Jedi once and for all. And
if the determined clip in Qui-Gon's long strides were any
indication, Xanatos was in for deep trouble when they did.
Obi-Wan had no idea how long he had subsisted in this
The Therdaks had literally been starving and wasting
away, so they fed often, seeking to regain their
impoverished strength. Obi-Wan wasn't sure how long his
body could stand playing buffet for them before it gave
out. He wished it would hurry up, he was in agony.
Xanatos visited several times. He taunted and
tormented the Padawan verbally, but, strangely enough,
bolstered and strengthened him physically. Xanatos had big
plans for the Therdaks, he wanted them kept happy and fed,
so, oddly enough, he really couldn't afford to lose Obi-Wan
yet. The boy was much more useful to him as a food source
for his helpers.
Xanatos held the trembling boy dispassionately,
keeling on the floor and holding Obi-Wan against him with
his arms wrapped around the teenager's chest.
Obi-Wan was propped limply against the older man in a
semi-sitting position, his back leaning against Xanatos'
breast. The young Jedi was still powerless to move on his
own. If he could have, he probably would have shoved the
other man away.
Xanatos' body heat warmed the boy's chilled frame as
the dark Jedi pumped strength back into the critically
At first, Obi-Wan fought it with all his might; he
didn't want any dark energy sustaining him! But the truth
was, after the Therdak were finished with him, he didn't
have much of anything left to fight with.
"Stop fighting me you little fool!" Xanatos snapped
impatiently, one arm tightening around Obi-Wan's ribs, the
other reaching up to deliver a stinging slap to the boy's
In the state of suffering Obi-Wan was already in, the
blow barely registered.
The Padawan never gave up fighting, but he was
completely drained and had nothing to fight with, so
Xanatos forced his way in, overrunning the boy's weakened
will and defenses. He *made* Obi-Wan accept the strength
he poured into his body, whether the apprentice liked it or
Obi-Wan never succumbed, never chose to accept, yet in
the end he could do nothing but lay still in Xanatos' arms
and let the Dark Jedi do as he would.
Strength welled up once more in his failing body,
relieving some of the aching weakness and pain he was
suffering from, but Obi-Wan refused to feel glad about it.
He knew Xanatos was only keeping him alive this way because
he needed the young Jedi to feed his horrible pets.
Xanatos' long black hair brushed against the back of
Obi-Wan's neck and the side of his face as the older man
leaned forward to speak softly in the apprentice's ear.
"Funny, isn't it little Jedi?" he mused, his hot
breath brushing the side of Obi-Wan's face and warming his
If Obi-Wan could have moved, he would have shuddered.
He had never had such close physical contact with the
fallen Jedi before and the sheer evil in Xanatos made his
The strength that Xanatos channeled into him was, of
course, the power of the Dark Side. It was strong, but
terrible and Obi-Wan writhed inside against the dark
invasion. He did not invite it into himself, so it could
not become part of him, but it was still there, surrounding
Obi-Wan with it's awful strength and tormenting him with
it's sheer darkness.
He'd never had anyone channel sheer, Dark Side energy
straight into his body before and even though it was saving
his life and restoring his strength, Obi-Wan hated it. It
Xanatos enjoyed feeling Obi-Wan mentally squirm in his
arms. Enjoyed the fact that the boy was completely open to
his whims. "Funny," he repeated, brushing his cheek
mockingly against Obi-Wan's, making the boy squirm harder.
"That I am now your only friend here. The only one who can
comfort your pain and keep you alive. Ironic, isn't it?"
"You are not my friend," Obi-Wan denied hoarsely. His
voice seemed to be the only thing he retained control of.
"And I do not wish to be kept alive if it is by the power
of the Dark Side!"
Xanatos smiled darkly. "You don't have a choice young
one. You don't have a choice." He held the young Jedi
tightly and the power rush became suddenly painful.
Obi-Wan cried out at the abrupt change, tears coming
unbidden to his eyes. For a few moments it hurt worse than
he could have imagined, more even than when the Therdaks
were draining him.
Then Xanatos relented and the bite of his touch softened.
Obi-Wan sobbed for breath.
"You see," Xanatos purred in his ear. "You see how
painful this could be. I can make you hurt as much as I
want, but I'm not. Toss that into the perfect, narrow,
little equation that you view life through Jedi, and see
"You don't fool me Xanatos," Obi-Wan rasped, his voice
shaky. "I may be young, but I'm not stupid."
"Don't be so sure my impetuous friend," Xanatos
smiled, mouthing Obi-Wan's neck just to be annoying.
"Don't be so sure." Xanatos' hands rubbed lightly back and
forth across the thirteen-year-old's chest as he chewed
softly on Obi-Wan's ear. The twisted Jedi enjoyed the way
his attentions made Obi-Wan flush and squirm uncomfortably.
Xanatos laughed, a low, devilish sound and moved down
Obi-Wan's neck to his shoulder. He had completed what he
needed to do to ensure that Obi-Wan would continue to
survive as the Therdaks' meal plan, now he was just having
Obi-Wan was helpless to stop Xanatos' unwanted
advances on him and a small thrill of panic shot through
the boy. Was Xanatos just teasing to torment him, or did
the Dark Jedi have more sinister inclinations?
Xanatos smiled, tasting Obi-Wan's fear. "If I had the
time, little Jedi," he breathed against Obi-Wan's throat.
"If I had time. Unfortunately," Xanatos pulled back,
settling Obi-Wan on the floor once more as the Dark Jedi
rocked back onto his heels. "I must go right now. I have
a date with a mutual acquaintance of ours," he smirked.
"When I'm done with him... well, I'll have more time on my
hands," he said with a threatening, predatory smile, rising
to his feet. "When Qui-Gon is taken care of, I'll be
back," he smirked, the look in his eyes leaving no doubt
about what he meant.
"Then you'll never be back Xanatos," Obi-Wan said with
"Don't count on it," Xanatos replied, his face turning
"You've faced Qui-Gon three times now, and every time
you've had to run away to even survive," Obi-Wan taunted,
wanting to make Xanatos angry and unfocused before he went
up against the other Jedi. "What makes you think this time
will be any different?"
If Obi-Wan wanted to make Xanatos angry, he succeeded.
Xanatos lashed out, kicking Obi-Wan viciously in the side.
"Don't forget boy, I always have a plan. I will not
fail this time, and you," his eyes narrowed, "Will regret
your insolence. When I come back, I'll make you suffer for
that statement," he promised. "You'll beg for death when
I'm through with you! But for now," the Dark Jedi regained
some of his composure. "I think the Therdaks are hungry
again. Until next time, Obi-Wan Kenobi, until next time."
Xanatos turned on his heel with a cruel grin, his black
cape swirling behind him, and strode away.
"There won't be a next time!" Obi-Wan called after
Xanatos' retreating form, battling back the terror and
despair that clutched at him.
"You'd better hope you're wrong boy," Xanatos'
retreating voice echoed back. "Because I am your only
hope. Without me, you'll die. Think about that for a
"Xanatos!" Qui-Gon shouted. "Xanatos! I've come!
Show yourself, I know this is what you want!" the Jedi
Master demanded, his lightsaber clutched loosely in one
hand. The Force had drawn him back to the same, deserted
courtyard where he had parted from Obi-Wan what now seemed
like ages ago. Dusk was falling and long purple shadows
clung to the place, making it look haunted. "Xanatos!"
Qui-Gon thundered again.
"My, my, my, so impatient," Xanatos' voice mocked from
Qui-Gon looked up and saw Xanatos standing on the top
of one of the broken-down walls, leaning against another,
"Is it possible that the un-reproachable Master Jinn
is actually human after all?"
"I'm here, and there is nothing to distract us this
time," Qui-Gon said coldly. "No one who's in trouble, no
time-bombs waiting to explode, just you and me. Is that
what you want Xanatos? You have it."
Xanatos smirked from his perch. "What I really want,
Jinn, is your head." With that, he jumped down,
somersaulting through the air to land behind Qui-Gon, his
Qui-Gon reacted quickly, spinning in time to block the
blow before it could fall. Emerald and crimson clashed in
the fading twilight as the two combatants battled back and
Qui-Gon pushed Xanatos back, moving with a grace and
skill developed over his years of experience.
Xanatos seemed stronger each time Qui-Gon fought him,
and this time was no exception, and yet, Qui-Gon wondered.
It was almost as if his former apprentice were giving back
Then Qui-Gon remembered the last time he had let
Xanatos chose their battleground, on Bandomeer. Something
in the Jedi's mind screamed a warning and he jumped back.
Not a moment too soon either.
Just as Qui-Gon jumped away, a deep, yawning pit
opened right beneath where he had been standing.
Xanatos never fought fair if he could come up with a
better way to cheat.
"Still no sense of sportsmanship Xanatos?" Qui-Gon
shook his head, his outward expression showing no trace of
how very close he had come to falling prey to the Dark
"It makes the game more interesting," Xanatos said,
leaping over the pit to press his attack once more. "I'll
give you credit at least for being quicker on your toes
than that little brat of yours. He, how shall we say,
"fell" for that one," Xanatos grinned wickedly at his own
twisted joke, spinning around to strike at Qui-Gon from the
Qui-Gon blocked and parried, he knew Xanatos was
trying to egg him into losing control by bringing Obi-Wan
up. He was dangerously close to succeeding.
Xanatos knew he was hitting home. "Do you want to
know something Jinn?" he asked, switching hands and taking
a swipe at Qui-Gon's legs.
Qui-Gon jumped and turned, thrusting at Xanatos'
middle, causing the younger man to have to spin away
"He was the perfect little Padawan to the end. He did
not disobey you you know, that was my doing," Xanatos
grinned. "But you never gave him the chance to explain did
you? You never gave anyone a chance!"
The knife Xanatos verbally twisted in Qui-Gon's gut
cut very deep. The Jedi's face twisted grimly. He had
"Did it feel good Qui-Gon, to walk out on him, the
same way he walked out on you? You always did have a
vindictive streak," Xanatos continued to taunt, although
his breath was coming a little shorter now.
Qui-Gon felt the guilt, grief, and anger swelling
inside him, starting to haze his thinking and quicken his
attack. *"No,"* he reigned himself in. Giving in to anger
and hate was what Xanatos wanted him to do, and he would
not give his enemy that satisfaction.
Obi-Wan heard it again, that familiar, terrible
rustling sound; the Therdaks were coming. Force, couldn't
they leave him alone?! How often did they have to eat
The young Jedi moaned softly, dreading what he knew
was coming. As the agonizing tongues of fire once more
reached out to drain the life from him, Obi-Wan came to a
near breaking point.
"Not again!" he cried, nearly sobbing. *"Oh please,
not again!"* he fairly screamed; only after it left him did
he realize that he had screamed it through the Force,
rather than aloud. The realms were beginning to mix for
him as confusion replaced reality and Obi-Wan hardly knew what
he was doing anymore.
To his surprise, the Therdaks stopped for an instant
and drew back abruptly.
*"Why?"* the same deep voice which had spoken to him
when he first woke up here, only this time, Obi-Wan
realized that, although it sounded just like a voice, he
was not hearing it with his ears, but in his head.
It was a ridiculous question, but Obi-Wan was too week
to do anything but answer. "B-because it hurts," he
gasped, then realized his mistake. Apparently, the Therdak
could not understand, or not hear him when he spoke with
his mouth, (for the very good reason that they had no ears)
but when he spoke through the Force... Obi-Wan repeated
*"Pain? It causes you pain, young one?*" the Therdak
sounded concerned, distressed.
"Yes," Obi-Wan answered weakly. "Very much. I know
you need to eat, but I'm not made to support this kind of
thing, it's killing me," the young Jedi was honest.
*"Then why do you let us?"* the Therdak was confused.
Obi-Wan realized that the Therdaks didn't know he
couldn't move had he wanted to. That must be Xanatos'
doing somehow. "I cannot help it," the boy said, hating
his helplessness. "I am a prisoner here, with no choice."
There was a long silence. *"We too, are prisoners of
the Dark One,"* the Therdak said softly. *"We did not
realize you were also here against your will."*
Obi-Wan could not tell if it was one of the Therdak,
or all of them together as a kind of group-mind, that he
was speaking with, but whatever, it sounded incredibly sad.
*"We too are dying young one. This prison is cold and
empty, no nourishment, no light, no air to breathe! In our
home, what the Dark One calls "Force" is the very air
itself! We cannot live without it. Two of our number died
before you came. The Dark One says that soon he will give
us much, he will take us to a place where there are many
like you and he... but we may not live that long. We do
not wish to harm you young one, we want only to be
released, to be allowed to go home."*
Suddenly Obi-Wan understood what Xanatos wanted with
the Therdak. Of course, Force-eaters, what better weapon
against other Jedi? "I'm sorry," Obi-Wan said softly, and
he meant it, he was sorry for the Therdaks. "I wish there
was something I could do to help you..." he paused,
realizing he did not know his companion's name.
*"Itor,"* the Therdak responded.
"Itor," Obi-Wan repeated. "I'm Obi-Wan Kenobi."
*"We too, are sorry, Obi-Wan Kenobi,"* the Therdak
said. *"Please do not fear us, we will not harm you again,
we did not know."*
The sorrowful creatures retreated, their soft feet
skittering quietly on the hard ground.
The fight lasted several more minutes, but in the end,
Qui-Gon backed Xanatos up against the wall and knocked the
weapon out of his hand.
Strangely, there was no fear in Xanatos' icy blue eyes
as he gazed at Qui-Gon over the blazing green blade that
hung between them, only dark, relentless hatred. "End it
then," he dared. "You know you've wanted to do this for
years. But think on this first, just how much is your
revenge worth to you? Is it worth the boy's life? You
kill me, you kill him."
Qui-Gon's eyes narrowed, on guard for trickery. "Not
even your lies make sense Xanatos, Obi-Wan is already
Xanatos gave a short, bitter laugh. "You really have
broken your connection with him, or you could never have
been fooled by a mere recording. Oh yes, what you saw was
real, but I decided to stop short of killing him, I had...
other uses that were more beneficial. Go ahead and don't
believe me, if that's a chance you want to take, but think
first Qui-Gon Jinn, and think hard. Don't I always have a
backup plan? So here's the deal, either you kill me, and
with it your hope of ever seeing your precious little
Padawan again, or you don't, and I take you to him."
Xanatos cocked one eyebrow. "The choice is yours."
There was no war, no struggle within Qui-Gon. His
choice was quite obvious to him. This could be a trick,
but that was a risk he would take. "Take me to him
Xanatos," he said simply, lowering his blade, but still
keeping it in readiness, just in case.
Xanatos was actually a trifle surprised at the ease
with which Qui-Gon decided. "Follow then," Xanatos said
briskly, starting to move away from the wall.
"Not so fast," Qui-Gon moved the blade of his
lightsaber closer again. "Give me your hands."
Xanatos hesitated, and the blade inched closer to him.
The look in Xanatos' eyes was a challenge. *"What are you
going to do if I don't?"* they seemed to mock. *"Kill me?"*
"No, I can't afford that," Qui-Gon answered the unspoken
question. "But there's nothing that says I can't just
take them off," Qui-Gon threatened calmly.
For an instant, fear and disbelief flickered in
"Don't push me Xanatos," Qui-Gon warned quietly.
Finally deciding it wasn't worth the risk to find out
if Qui-Gon were bluffing or not, the Dark Jedi thrust his
hands out with a snarl of contempt and allowed Qui-Gon to
bind his wrists together.
True, Qui-Gon knew this wouldn't necessarily stop the
fallen Jedi if he chose to try something, but it might slow
him down a little. Anyway, it was the best he could do.
"Now," Qui-Gon said, one hand on the back of Xanatos'
collar, the other gripping his still ignited saber warily
in the other. "Take me to Obi-Wan."
Xanatos led him through the deserted courtyard and
into the crumbling ruins of the old mansion beyond. As
they walked, Qui-Gon realized that he did not know the man
whom he forced to walk before him, not any more. It was
perhaps an obvious revelation, but it had never quite hit
Qui-Gon like this before.
Certainly he knew Xanatos had changed, had chosen the
path of darkness, but Qui-Gon realized that somewhere deep
inside he had been unable to let go of the other images he
held. Images of Xanatos as a boy, no older than Obi-Wan,
so eager to impress and be thought highly of, Xanatos, with
his hair cropped close and his apprentice braid flying as
he guarded Qui-Gon's back in battle, all the missions they
had gone on, all the situations they had survived together,
all the love he had felt...
Xanatos had not always been dark. All along he had
had faults that Qui-Gon now saw had disposed him towards
the darkness that he had ultimately chosen, but no one is
ever born evil, evil is a choice.
That was it right there, Qui-Gon realized, his whole
problem. In his heart, he could not separate the Xanatos
whom he remembered from the creature that his former
apprentice had become. Yet the man he walked with now held
no trace, showed no glimmer of the boy he had known once.
That Xanatos was dead; Qui-Gon could mourn him, but he
could not bring him back, nor could he keep equating them
as one and the same person.
It was a freeing discovery for Qui-Gon.
Xanatos stopped inside one of the few rooms of the
run-down old house that was still usable, pausing before
what looked like a dull, full-length mirror. He gestured
at the glass. "There," he said simply.
Qui-Gon's brows creased in caution, not sure what
exactly Xanatos was up to. Leaning a little closer, he
peered into the smoky mirror, and found that it was like
reflective plexi-glass. If you got close enough, you could
see through it to the other side. It was almost all
darkness beyond the glass, but Qui-Gon could just make out
Obi-Wan's still form, lying prone on the ground, the only
sign of life the uneven rising and falling of the boy's
Something was wrong though. Qui-Gon reached out, but
could not feel Obi-Wan, he could see him, but not find him
in the Force. What manner of trickery was this?
Qui-Gon turned on Xanatos, his face dangerous.
Xanatos laughed to keep from shrinking back, which
Qui-Gon's hand on his collar did not allow. "He's not in
the same dimension as we are stupid," he mocked. "You want
to feel him? Step through the portal."
"Very well," Qui-Gon nodded. "You first." Still
keeping a firm grip on his captive, Qui-Gon pushed Xanatos
forward, through the strange portal, following a step
behind. The dull surface gave before them like gauzy mist
and almost complete darkness swallowed them up.
Obi-Wan lay still in the dark because he could do
nothing else. Somewhere, not far away, he could feel the
suffering Therdaks' life-signatures growing weaker and
weaker. The poor beings were starving, parching and
suffocating to death slowly.
It reminded him of being trapped on that forsaken rock
somewhere in space between Coruscant and Bandomeer in the
darkness of the caves, with the Arconians fading away
around him... It made Obi-Wan feel so sad for the
Therdaks, he wanted to help, but he was powerless... no,
there was one way he could help them.
Obi-Wan shuddered, remembering the pain it caused, but
they were dying...
"Itor," he whispered hoarsely, his own voice scratchy
from lack of water. Then he gave up on speech, since they
couldn't hear anyway, and communicated only on the
telepathic level. It was too much effort now, to do both
as he had been. *"Itor?"*
*"Yes, Obi-Wan Kenobi?"* came the faint reply.
*"I-I can't just let you all die..."* the young Jedi
hesitated, grappling with his own fears, before pushing
them away and continuing. *"Go ahead, and - and drink from
me,"* he said softly, not knowing quite else what to call
it. *"I-I'm strong enough, it won't kill me, I'll be
okay,"* he offered bravely.
*"We cannot do that young one,"* Itor said
sorrowfully. *"It puts you in great pain and we will not
harm you so again. But the generosity of your offer is
appreciated,"* Itor croaked feebly.
Just then there was a soft whooshing sound and Obi-Wan
tensed. That was the sound that always proceeded Xanatos'
entrance. Obi-Wan had fully expected to die here. He
believed what he told Xanatos, that the Dark Jedi would
never be back.
The boy's heart clutched up for a moment. If Xanatos
were returning, then that would have to mean that Qui-Gon
was dead, and that thought cut Obi-Wan to the quick.
He knew that Qui-Gon wanted nothing more to do with
him, and Obi-Wan did not blame him for it, he knew he had
blown his chance and no longer expected to be able to get
it back. Still, Obi-Wan cared for Qui-Gon deeper than even
he had realized and the thought that Xanatos might have
succeeded in his wicked schemes came close to breaking the
young Jedi's heart.
Obi-Wan's blood ran cold when he saw Xanatos, once
more eerily self-illuminated, but a moment later fear
turned to joy as he saw Qui-Gon's tall, distinctive form
appear behind Xanatos, also visible in his own light. Obi-
Wan didn't realize it, but he too glowed faintly here, it
was the effect that a force-sensitive being had on this
Obi-Wan realized that Xanatos' hands were bound in
front of him and Qui-Gon had a good grip on his shirt.
"Master Qui-Gon!" Obi-Wan tried to shout in joy, but
all that managed to come out was a faint croak.
"Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon released Xanatos, and knelt down by
the prostrate teenager. "Come, we must leave." He didn't
like turning any of his attention away from Xanatos, but
Obi-Wan looked like he needed him more at the moment.
"I can't," Obi-Wan whispered weakly. "I can't move, I
don't know what's wrong with me."
"You're weak, you've been through a lot, we'll get you
out of here and you'll be all right again," Qui-Gon said
gently. Obi-Wan looked so fragile and pale, like a little
child now, but the strength in his eyes was as steadfast as
Behind them, Xanatos began laughing. "A fool's hope
Qui-Gon, a fool's hope! Do you forget what you saw on the
recording? Oh yes, it was real, but do you see any marks
on him now? No. This dimension may be his prison, but it
is also the only thing that is supporting him. Just as I
am the only one that can keep him alive."
Qui-Gon rose to face Xanatos again. "What do you
mean?" he demanded.
"My, you are dumb if you can't figure something so
simple out," Xanatos smirked. "He should have died when
the My'nars were done with him, their poison and their
bites should have killed him, but I brought him here, to
this dimension that I discovered where the normal rules of
our galaxy no longer exist. That supported him long enough
for me to heal him somewhat. But make no mistake Qui-Gon;
it is only by my strength and my intervention that he is
still here. This dimension creates a statcious where he
can subsist, and my hold on him keeps him alive, remove
either, and he will die." Xanatos grinned. "He cannot
leave this place, and if I withdraw my hold from him..."
Obi-Wan's body tightened spasmodically and his breath
became dangerously short.
"Stop!" Qui-Gon demanded, pushing back a thrill of
alarm as Obi-Wan's bright eyes started to glaze over. The
Jedi Master struggled to reach in and wrestle control of
Obi-Wan away from Xanatos, but Xanatos had entwined himself
deeply around Obi-Wan's body. If Qui-Gon had had a
training bond with the young Jedi, he could have gotten
past that. If they had even the tentative link that they
had had after Bandomeer, he could have taken over the
control and supplied the strength that Xanatos was now
depriving Obi-Wan of, the strength the boy needed to survive.
But there was nothing there when Qui-Gon reached for it and
Xanatos' words rang in Qui-Gon's head. *"You killed him,
Xanatos laughed at his former teacher's struggle.
"You forfeited your ability to do that Qui-Gon," he shook
his head. "Do you see the irony? I am now much more
connected to him than you are; I hold his life in my hands.
Undo me," he held out his arms.
Qui-Gon hesitated and Obi-Wan's eyes started rolling
back in his head. "All right, all right!" he said grimly,
cutting Xanatos' wrists loose. Then he knelt to check Obi-
Obi-Wan took a deep, shuddering breath and relaxed as
the power that had been sustaining him returned. "Don't,"
he murmured softly, too soft for anyone but Qui-Gon to
hear him. His earnest turquoise eyes pleaded with Qui-Gon.
"Don't stop it, let me die. I-I can't live supported by
evil, I can't..."
Qui-Gon swallowed the lump in his throat, his hand
tightening around Obi-Wan's. To be surrounded in and
supported by so much Darkness, and yet cling so
tenaciously to the Light took an incredible strength of
spirit. Yet the struggle had left Obi-Wan drained and the
boy knew he could not resist forever.
Qui-Gon could see it in Obi-Wan's eyes. The young
Jedi wanted to die before the Dark Side that Xanatos had
already curled around his body could overcome his spirit.
Xanatos grinned at his triumph and rubbed his wrists.
"You see? I am always one step ahead of you. And now,
Qui-Gon Jinn, you will die."
Xanatos stepped back. "Therdaks, I have brought you
more to feed upon!" he called into the darkness, sending
his words to the Therdaks. "And this one, you don't have
to stop short of killing."
There was a soft rustle and the scuttle of insect-like
feet on the floor. Qui-Gon could not see the beings, which
seemed to create a void in the Force, but he could hear
Rising to his feet and re-igniting his lightsaber,
Qui-Gon slid instinctually into the ready position as he
prepared to face whatever monstrosities Xanatos had dredged
"Master Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan's weak voice said urgently.
Looking down, Qui-Gon's eyebrows creased in confusion
as Obi-Wan shook his head at him.
*"No, Dark One,"* Itor's deep voice rumbled, Obi-Wan
could hear the faint edge of weakness in the failing
Therdak's voice, but there was an icy determination in
place over it that sent a shiver up the boy's spine.
*"You brought us here as captives, you took advantage
of the fact that we would not use our natural abilities to
harm anyone, including you, and then you lied to us!"* the
angry Therdak accused. *"These are not food, these are
sentient beings whom you bade us torture when we knew no
better! No more Dark One. No more."*
The Therdaks advanced slowly, menacingly, towards
Xanatos backed up, shocked. "Now, now wait a
*"No, we will wait no longer! We want to go home!
Open the portal for us!"* they demanded.
"Stay away from me you fools!" Xanatos said angrily,
but with a touch of panic in his voice.
The Dark Jedi made a break for the portal that would
take him back to the ruins on Telos, but the Therdak were
quicker. In an instant, they were on him.
Left no option but to get rid of them to their home,
or be eaten alive by the very helpers he had thought to
tame, Xanatos tried to fling open the portal that led back
to Dakia, which he had sealed with the Force after
bringing the Therdaks here. But with his attention
distracted by the Therdaks, which were beginning to drink
from him, he opened not only the Dakia portal, but
hundreds and hundreds of others that he hadn't even been
The ground began to shake ominously and bright flashes
flared as a rumbling sound filled the air. The limbo they
were in was not capable of containing so many portals at
the same time and its unstable existence was preparing to
Obi-Wan clutched at his lungs and stomach, rolling
onto his side as the upheaval around him and Xanatos'
withdrawal of attention once more sent his body into a
downward spiral. Released from the bonds that both
restrained him and kept him alive, Obi-Wan could move, but
he could barely breathe and felt his vital organs shutting
down as his body died around him.
"Go!" he gasped at Qui-Gon, pushing away the Master's
concerned hands. He could sense that there were only
moments left before this place collapsed on itself and took
everything and everyone here out of existence with it.
Obi-Wan knew he was dying, but he didn't want Qui-Gon
to perish as well.
"I will not leave you, Padawan," Qui-Gon said with
Obi-Wan smiled faintly at the word, but it wasn't real
to him. It was a nice last gesture, but he couldn't
believe, couldn't trust anymore.
Desperately, Qui-Gon tried to penetrate the wall that
had come between them. "Let me in Obi-Wan, let me help you
before it's too late!" he entreated when he realized that
part of the block between them was that Obi-Wan was no
longer open to him.
Obi-Wan himself hadn't realized that he wasn't, but
"You've got to trust me Obi-Wan!" Qui-Gon said
urgently as they felt the world going to pieces around
them. Obi-Wan's body was failing fast.
"I-I don't know if I can," Obi-Wan stammered, as if
shocked by the realization. Good knows he wanted to, but
something in him just refused to open up.
"I'm sorry," he said softly. "I understand now."
And he did. He did understand.
He understood that Qui-Gon had not been intentionally
shunning him, or resisting being able to trust him again,
but sometimes it's simply not so easy.
You couldn't necessarily do something like that just
because you *wanted* to.
Obi-Wan started to slip away.
Qui-Gon realized that he could not force the boy to
trust him anymore than he could force the boy to live.
In order for Obi-Wan to survive, he would have to
trust Qui-Gon enough to surrender control of his body to
the other Jedi.
Qui-Gon could not and would not take it by force like
Xanatos had created a dependency in Obi-Wan, almost
like a spice addiction, so that Obi-Wan could not command
his own body, nor support it without Xanatos' constant
control. To break that, Qui-Gon himself would have to take
complete control of Obi-Wan's body for a few moments, but
after the way he had been abused through such a hold, it
was obviously not easy for Obi-Wan to give permission for
anyone to take such power over him again, even to save his
life. But if Obi-Wan could not, if he could not bring
himself to trust Qui-Gon that deeply, he was going to die,
and Qui-Gon couldn't stop him.
With a jolt, Qui-Gon realized his mistake. Why should
Obi-Wan trust him that deeply? The abandonment issue
aside, had he ever demonstrated that kind of trust to the
Padawan? Even before Melida/Daan, even before he had any
reason *not* to trust Obi-Wan, had he ever given him his
unconditional trust? His unconditional love? How could he
expect of Obi-Wan what he himself had never shown the boy?
Kneeling by Obi-Wan as all hell broke loose around
them, Qui-Gon took the choking boy's hand and for the first
time in years he opened his heart completely. He opened
himself entirely to Obi-Wan, holding nothing back.
Obi-Wan's eyes went wide, even as his lungs continued
to spasm painfully. Qui-Gon had removed all shielding,
leaving himself wide open and completely vulnerable. It
was the deepest kind of trust he was showing. Qui-Gon was
entrusting Obi-Wan with more than his life; he was
entrusting him with his heart and his soul.
Unable to refuse such pure, unadulterated faith, Obi-
Wan responded in kind and Qui-Gon quickly eased his way in.
Feeding Obi-Wan strength, he took over the support that
Xanatos had discontinued and then quickly returned control
of Obi-Wan's body to him.
"Come," Qui-Gon said hoarsely, rising to his feet and
pulling Obi-Wan with him. Half carrying, half dragging the
youth, Qui-Gon made his way swiftly to the Telos portal not
As they reached the door he saw the Therdaks
disappearing happily through the gateway to their own world
and dimension. In his desperation to save Obi-Wan's life,
he had forgotten about them. Them and... Xanatos.
Qui-Gon looked around and saw Xanatos slumped on the
ground several dozen meters away. Everything in Qui-Gon
screamed for him to just get the heck out of there and
leave Xanatos to the fate he more than richly deserved.
After all, he had Obi-Wan to think about...
Stepping through the portal, Qui-Gon lay Obi-Wan down
on the floor of the crumbling mansion. "Listen to me Obi-
Wan," he said quickly. "I want you as my Padawan again, if
you will have me. Whatever happens, I want you to know
that. But there is something I must do first." Qui-Gon
wanted Obi-Wan to know that he was wanted, just in case...
in case Qui-Gon never came back.
Obi-Wan nodded slowly, he understood.
Rising quickly, Qui-Gon plunged back through the
portal without hesitation.
Xanatos was struggling to his feet when Qui-Gon
reappeared. Huge cracks had opened in ground and the floor
was listing sharply. Qui-Gon had to hang onto the frame of
the portal to keep from slipping.
"Xanatos!" he called out and the younger man looked
up, a wild light in his eyes. "Hurry!" Qui-Gon called,
holding out his hand. "There isn't much time."
Xanatos just stared at him for a moment, but did not
stir. "You are wrong once more Qui-Gon," he said with an
unreadable look on his cold face. "There's no time. It's
too late." Xanatos just stood there, making no move
towards the safety that Qui-Gon was offering him.
With a tremendous rumble the strange dimension
collapsed, pancaking and imploding inward like a black
Qui-Gon only just made it out the portal in time, half
blown out by the explosion. Knocked flat, Qui-Gon rolled
over a few times. Leaning up on his elbow, he saw the
mirror-like portal shatter and vanish as the realm it led
to disappeared. Taking Xanatos with it.
Qui-Gon felt Obi-Wan's hand on his arm. Qui-Gon was
glad to see that the boy was already looking stronger and
beginning to recover. Obi-Wan bounced back incredibly
For his part, Obi-Wan was very relieved; he had been
quite worried about Qui-Gon when he went back through the
portal, although he understood that it was somehow very
important to Qui-Gon to do so.
"I'm sorry," Obi-Wan said softly, but his eyes spoke
more than his words. *"I understand,"* they said. *"I
tried to save Bruck too..."*
"He - he didn't *want* to be saved, Master," Obi-Wan
tested the word out almost hesitantly.
Qui-Gon nodded slowly, rising to a sitting position.
"I know," he agreed softly. "But I had to try, Padawan,"
he infused so much warmth and trust into that one word that
Obi-Wan didn't think he could stand it.
Tears clouded the boy's eyes. He could take Qui-Gon's
rejection; he had done so before, he knew how to bear the
Master's silence and emotional withdrawal, but Obi-Wan was
at a loss for how to deal with this sudden show of care.
*"Stupid time to cry, now!"* Obi-Wan berated himself,
trying desperately to hold back the emotions that were
churning inside him. He had wanted Qui-Gon so badly,
wanted him as a teacher, wanted him as the father figure
that he had never had, but his young heart craved. Yet
somehow, he didn't think it could ever happen. Somewhere
along the way he had lost the hope that Qui-Gon would ever
care for him. It had happened long before Melida/Daan he
realized, that was just the way it had culminated.
Qui-Gon saw the boy's desperate struggle to be
"brave", and not let the Master see what he was feeling.
Normally, he would probably have stepped back and let the
boy compose himself, but somehow, he didn't feel that that
was what Obi-Wan needed right now. "Don't lock your
emotions away Padawan. It is not weakness to feel," he
It was all the push Obi-Wan needed and at last, the
Qui-Gon drew Obi-Wan into his arms gently and let the
boy rest his head against the big Jedi's breast.
There was much they needed to talk about. Much that
needed to be said, much that needed to be healed between
them, and Qui-Gon was not going to let it be put off any
longer. Obi-Wan had to be a priority to him, he realized.
But it could wait a few more minutes. As far as Qui-Gon
was concerned, the whole galaxy could wait for as long as
was needed, for as long as Obi-Wan needed.
Obi-Wan burrowed into Qui-Gon's tunic and just stayed
there. He didn't care if it was stupid and childish; he
was so weary and so relieved. It was like the bottle that
he had been shoving everything into for so long had finally
burst, freeing him.
Free of the dimension that had banished his injuries,
Obi-Wan could feel them creeping up on him again, but they
were no longer life threatening and he didn't want to worry
about that right now. He didn't want to worry about
anything right now.
Qui-Gon found himself stroking Obi-Wan's soft, short
hair almost without meaning to, but Obi-Wan made no
objection, so he did not stop. He and the boy had
certainly had a rocky road so far, but sitting here like
this, Qui-Gon knew that Tahl was right, and that sometimes
what was broken could be reformed into something even
stronger and more beautiful.
Qui-Gon knew he was not especially gifted in foresight
like some, but he could foresee a quite a future for he and
his Padawan, together.