An alternate possibility for JA 8. 


Title: Test of Faith

By: Cassia


Category: JA sequel (sort of), Short Story, Hurt/Comfort, Drama, AU with JA 8

Rating:  PG

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

loose converters. 


But it was more than mere physical cold which assailed

him.  No, it was something far more treacherous, and far

more deadly.


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

at all."


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 different...*


*No different...*


"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

claimed him.




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

the blame. 


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

myself talk!"


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's eyes. 


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

think of. 


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

like Xanatos.


"Calling me little Jedi?" Xanatos stepped from the

blackness, somehow illuminated by an eerie light that lit

only himself. 


"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

through him. 


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

living nightmare. 


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

weakened Padawan.


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

flesh crawl. 


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

was terrible.


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

what happens."


"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

calm certainty. 


"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,

higher wall. 


"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

blade drawn.


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

too easily...


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

Jedi's schemes. 


"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

failed Obi-Wan.


"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

himself silently. 


*"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

Xanatos' eyes.


"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

empty dimension. 


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,

you did..."* 


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-

Wan's vitals.


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

them approach. 


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

aware existed. 


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

fierce determination.


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. 


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

far away. 


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

said softly.


It was all the push Obi-Wan needed and at last, the

tears came. 


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.



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