The last thing Obi-Wan expects when his investigations take him to Kamino is to be confronted with the face of a man he still thinks of wistfully at times despite all the years passed. Now, that face has been replicated thousands of times over before him. As Lama Su speaks, he stares at the hundreds upon hundreds of soldiers marching below, trying to act as if the sight is expected.
"And who was the original host?" he asks, even though he knows the answer to that.
"A bounty hunter called Jango Fett," answers Lama Su.
--And that is not what he had expected, but explains a lot.
He had known the man as Jaster, but of course Jango Fett , the missing Mand'alor long presumed dead, would have used an alias with him. And not just any alias, but the name of a parent -- Mand'alor Jaster Mereel the Reformer. Again, it explains a lot.
"And where is this bounty hunter now?" he asks.
Which is how, shortly after, he ends up in front of a door in a sterile hallway identical to all the others he's been in while on Kamino.
He's not sure what to expect. They had parted quite abruptly all those years ago. And now this development with the clones, not to mention the mystery of Padme's assassin...
The door slides open before he's remotely prepared, and they're greeted by --
Boba . Adorable little Boba, he remembers, looking older and exactly the same age as the young clones he'd seen in that classroom.
Before Taun We can speak, Boba's eyes widen at the sight of him and a smile brightens his face.
"Obi!" he exclaims, and Obi-wan blinks at his good cheer.
"I... Hello, Boba," Obi-wan says. "I didn't think you would remember me. You were very young."
"Of course I remember you! Come on, you have to see Dad." Boba grabs hold of Obi-wan's wrist, tugging him into the apartment with great strength and enthusiasm. "Dad! Dad! Guess who's here!"
They stop in the main area of the apartment, where a small kitchen flows directly into a dining area and living area. Boba lets go of him to start bustling away in the kitchen.
"You are acquainted?" Taun We asks, and Obi-wan has no choice but to nod.
The hiss of a door opening stops him from speaking. He turns as the entering footsteps falter for a moment, barely detectable, and then he faces Ja-- Jango Fett.
Jango looks a little older, a little more weather-beaten, but still just as handsome as Obi-wan remembers. He's rolling up his shirtsleeves, baring strong forearms, and Obi-wan tries not to stare, though Jango is staring right back at him.
"Jango, welcome back. Was your trip productive?" Taun We greets.
"Fairly," Jango answers, his gaze remaining on Obi-wan.
"This is Jedi Master Obi-wan Kenobi, though I understand you have met," says Taun We. "He has come to check on our progress."
Jango raises his eyebrows at Obi-wan in an almost exaggerated motion. "Jedi Master," he repeats. "Congratulations on the title, I presume."
At a loss for words, Obi-wan can only tilt his head in a nod, smiling reflexively in thanks.
They stare at each other for long, protracted seconds, though Jango’s dark eyes are no longer as readable as they had once been to Obi-wan. He notes one or two new scars on Jango’s face.
Then Jango breaks eye contact, turning to Taun We.
"Master Kenobi and I should get reacquainted," Jango says. "I’ll take him wherever he needs to go next."
"Very well. Master Kenobi, I am available should you have more questions later," Taun We says with a tilt of her head. "I hope you have a productive meeting."
In a matter of moments, Taun We has left the apartment, and Obi-wan finds himself being pulled to a seat at the dining table by Boba, a steaming cup of shig set before him. Jango sits down across from him, as Boba looks between the two of them with a bright smile from the end of the table. He can’t help smiling indulgently at the boy, before returning his eyes to Jango.
"Well, I must admit, this is certainly not how I imagined us meeting again," he finally finds his words.
"You imagined us meeting again?" Jango replies.
Obi-wan raises an eyebrow. "Did you not?" He studies Jango’s face, searching for some of that softness he remembers.
After a long stretch of silence though, Boba interrupts with a whining " Dad , stop being mean."
-- and the placidity on Jango’s face melts away with a crooked smile. "Su cuy'gar, Tracyn’nau, " he says softly.
A small amount of anxiety that had been building in Obi-wan loosens at hearing that name from Jango. He smiles.
" Su cuy’gar, " he replies. Then he adds because he feels he must, "I’m sorry I left so abruptly."
But Jango shakes his head. "We went over that. Duty comes first, especially if it’s your kid," he says. "He a knight yet?"
That has Obi-wan sobering, remembering what had led him to Kamino in the first place.
"No, not yet. While I have...misgivings, he's on a solo assignment," Obi-wan says, "...protecting Senator Amidala." He pauses, watching as Jango turns solemn. "On Coruscant, that was you, wasn't it? Who killed the Clawdite?"
Jango nods. "Zam. It’s a pity, but I couldn't risk her giving my name."
"Besides perhaps the obvious, why?" Obi-wan asks. "And why Senator Amidala?"
Jango looks at Boba for a moment, though Obi-wan can’t tell if he’s debating what to say or if he’s thinking of sending Boba out of the room. Boba pouts and crosses his arms though, and Jango turns back to Obi-wan.
"The Trade Federation put the bounty on Amidala," he says. "I took the bounty because it would take me to Coruscant without suspicion."
Obi-wan raises his eyebrows at that, signaling for him to continue.
"I admit it was a long shot," Jango says, "but Coruscant meant you Jedi would be poking your noses around. You once mentioned being friends with Amidala. I hoped if Jedi were assigned to protect her, you might be one of them -- but any Jedi would have done the job. Fortunate for me that it was you."
"You wanted to get the attention of a Jedi?"
Jango nods. "I subcontracted Zam, because while she gets the job done, usually it takes her a few tries -- especially if there’s a good security detail."
"A messy job, and then a trail leading all the way here," Obi-wan says, "though I must admit Kamino was difficult to locate. You left a lot to chance. That doesn’t seem like you."
"When you hardly know anything about your enemy, you work with what little you have."
An enemy Jango knows little about, who would cause him to covertly seek the help of a Jedi ?
"That sounds...concerning," he remarks, finding himself unconsciously leaning forward.
Jango sighs and leans back against his seat, crossing his arms.
"Ten years ago, I was hired by a man called Tyranus to become the genetic template of a clone army," Jango says.
" Tyranus ?" Obi-wan repeats. "Not Master Sifo-Dyas?"
Jango raises a brow in response. "Never heard of him."
"I see…" Obi-wan absently strokes his beard. "The Kaminoans say Master Sifo-Dyas commissioned this army."
Jango nods. "Tyranus didn't say what the purpose of this army was for, but it wasn't exactly hard to figure out from the Kaminoans," he says. "They made it clear this army would be for the Republic, under the direction of Jedi."
"You can't tell me you didn't question that. There wasn't even a hint of any possible war back then."
Jango shrugs one shoulder. "It was suspicious, but I was getting paid well and got Bob'ika out of it."
He smiles at Boba at that. A smile he always gives Boba, the one full of love and fierce pride that had drawn Obi-wan to Jango all those years ago. And Boba beams at his father in return.
Obi-wan struggles not to let the sweet moment distract him. "But something changed?" he asks, hazarding a guess.
"Then I met you."
Obi-wan huffs a laugh before realizing Jango is serious . He blinks at the man in disbelief. "You’re serious."
Jango nods. "You changed my mind about Jedi, that Jedi are more like you than like the ones I first met."
Obi-wan grimaces a little at that, fully aware what Jedi Jango Fett had first met.
Jango continues, "Jedi like you would have never commissioned a clone army, especially not ones altered for less independence."
Obi-wan nods in strong agreement at that.
"So after you left, after Boba and I got back, I started looking into things -- discreetly. Where the funds were coming from, what the Kaminoans were exactly doing, who Tyranus really was."
All things Obi-wan would like to know as well. "And what did you find? Is that what led you to bring a Jedi here?"
"We can talk about the rest later, but first, about Tyranus ."
This time, Jango says the name with such an angry bite to it, Obi-wan is a little taken aback and a lot concerned. At the end of the table, Boba twitches, as if wanting to go to Jango but hesitating.
Jango notices as well though, the corners of his eyes softening ever so slightly as he holds out an arm to Boba. Boba readily takes the invitation, hurrying around the table to his father. He wraps his arms around Jango, half burying his face into Jango's shoulder. Jango runs a reassuring hand through Boba's hair before focusing back on Obi-wan.
"I couldn’t find anything about him, but it got me thinking back." Jango pauses for a moment, not so much hesitating as weighing his next words. He then says, "Jedi can do mind things right? I need you to check my head."
"I’m sorry, what ?" Obi-wan gapes at him.
"There are things I can’t remember," Jango says. "I didn’t even notice until after I met you and thought about it."
"You’re missing memories ?"
Jango nods. "I remember taking a hunt that led me to Bogdan, where I met Tyranus," he says. "I remember meeting Zam, I remember fighting Montross. I don’t remember who the hunt was about."
"That’s not the only memory missing though?" Obi-wan assumes, catching sight of the way Boba’s fist clenches Jango’s shirt tightly.
Jango nods again. "Tyranus gave me several other bounties in the past few years. I only remember as many details as I do because of Boba and what I tell him before I leave for the hunts. Putting everything together, I have...suspicions about Tyranus, which we can talk about later, but I need you to check my head first. I need to know he hasn't done anything worse."
To say Obi-wan is alarmed to hear those implications would be an understatement. "But, Jango, mind tricks only work on the weak-minded, and you are the farthest thing from weak-minded. For Tyranus -- for anyone -- to have manipulated your mind to that degree…"
"You haven’t mentioned the headaches," Boba interjects, looking at Jango with a frown before twisting to fix wide, concerned eyes on Obi-wan. "Dad has been having headaches. A lot of them. And bad ones, too."
"That's...that's definitely worrying." Obi-wan looks from Boba to Jango.
"Which is why I need you to check my head," Jango says. "Will you?"
"Yes, yes of course...but if you’re already experiencing headaches, I fear it might be painful no matter how careful I am."
"I don't mind. K'atini ."
Obi wan sighs but nods. He murmurs in return, " K’atini ."
They end up relocating to the living area, where there's a couch facing the floor to ceiling windows that look out at Kamino's stormy seas. He and Jango sit side by side, turned towards each other with knees just shy of brushing. Boba curls up against the armrest on Jango’s other side, one hand fisted in Jango’s shirt.
"I have to warn you I’m not trained as a mindhealer -- or as a healer even," Obi-wan says. "There will only be so much I can do."
"That’s fine," Jango says, sounding awfully calm.
Obi-wan takes a deep breath. "Well, it’s not something that requires touch, but...it will be easier."
Jango smirks at that. "You know you can touch me however you like, Tracyn’nau ."
Obi-wan sputters, fighting and failing to control the redness flooding his face.
" Jango ," Obi-wan scolds, as Boba chimes in, "I’m right here , Dad."
Jango laughs, a delightful sound and sight Obi-wan has missed. If anything, that makes Obi-wan’s blushing intensify, and he raises a hand to his face to try and hide it.
But Jango intercepts him, catching Obi-wan’s hand in his. Obi-wan can’t help the way his breath catches when they touch and Jango strokes a thumb back and forth across the back of his hand.
Jango grins at him before saying, "I’m sorry, now isn’t the time, but that was just a perfect opening."
Obi-wan huffs a laugh. "Yes, let’s save it for when Boba isn’t around to hear your terrible flirting."
"Yes please," Boba grumbles as Jango scoffs and says, " Terrible ? You think my flirting is terrible ?"
Jango leans into Obi-wan’s space with a wide grin, head tilting just so in the way Obi-wan recognizes as a specific question and cue. With a soft sigh, Obi-wan closes the distance between them, pressing their foreheads together in a gentle kov’nyn . Obi-wan closes his eyes, savoring the moment before they separate.
Behind them, Boba sighs loudly, and they exchange an amused look before Jango twists to give Boba an apologetic pat on the shoulder. They turn back to each other, sharing brief smiles before sobering, needing to return to the matter at hand.
"...well then…" Obi-wan slowly holds up his hands, and after a reassuring nod from Jango, rests the tips of his fingers to Jango’s temples. "Are you sure about this?" he has to ask. "We can wait to see one of the mind healers?"
Jango huffs and says, "I’m sure. I trust you ."
"Thank you, I’m honored. Truly . But if something happens--"
"It’ll be fine ," Jango insists, "so please.”
Obi-wan sighs, but acquiesces. He dips his head and closes his eyes --
But Jango tenses up the moment Obi-wan barely stretches his senses into his mind. Obi-wan makes to pull away, but Jango grabs hold of his hands, keeping them pressed to Jango’s temples.
“I’m fine,” Jango says, “just keep going.”
Reluctantly, Obi-wan complies, reaching for the Force to help him assess Jango’s mind as gently as possible.
-- And he isn’t just upset by what he finds. He’s furious .
But he tries to reign his anger in, mindful of Jango’s ever tightening grip on his hands, a testament to Jango’s pain despite his insistence otherwise. He can’t risk accidentally hurting Jango worse by being unbalanced.
Obi-wan takes a slow deep breath, in and out, and re-focuses on his task.
As he had said, Jango is the farthest thing from weak-minded. For Tyranus to manipulate his mind to the extent he has, that leaves marks -- raw and jagged open wounds that cause pain even with simply Obi-wan’s presence. That Jango has only been experiencing headaches is a small miracle.
Obi-wan finds a thin silver lining in that Tyranus hadn’t removed any memories, simply obscured the details. A feat difficult enough with Jango’s mental fortitude, but Obi-wan shudders to think what kind of state Jango would have been in if Tyranus had tried for removal instead. He also doesn’t find any other sort of tampering Jango had been concerned about.
He relays this news to Jango, who naturally asks, “Can you fix it?”
“No, not completely. I’m really not qualified for the extent of healing you need for this, Jango,” he says.
“Not completely , but you can fix some of it? Just one memory even?”
“I--I can try . But, Jango--” Obi-wan opens his eyes to properly look at Jango and impress upon him his next words. “I don’t know how it will go. I won’t make it worse , but undoing what Tyranus did, it may be excruciating. ” And Obi-wan is not enthused with causing him that much pain, even if it may help in the long run.
Jango huffs, but his eyes soften as he looks at Obi-wan. He lets go of one of his hands to reach across and cup his cheek. He strokes his thumb across Obi-wan’s skin, just along the edge of his beard.
“What did I say, Tracyn’nau ? K’atini ,” Jango murmurs. “I’ll survive it. But I need to know -- we need to know who Tyranus is, what he’s trying to hide.”
Obi-wan sighs, pressing his face into Jango’s warm hand for a moment, before nodding. “One memory,” he agrees. “And one try.”
Jango nods, seeming satisfied with that, and moves his hand back to cover Obi-wan’s at his temple. “One memory. The first meeting,” he says.
“Alright then. Concentrate on that one for me, and I’ll do what I can.”
Obi-wan waits for a cue from Jango -- a slight nod -- before venturing into Jango’s mind again.
The memory, as he had seen with the others, is mired in darkness, forced there by Tyranus to keep Jango from recalling it with any sort of clarity.
It’s an agonizing and draining process to gently disentangle and pry away the darkness without causing any damage. More than once, he hears Jango choke back groans of pain and has to force himself to continue. He has to remind himself that Jango is willing to endure the pain if it means recovering that memory, that stopping would make all of Jango's efforts be in vain.
Eventually though, Obi-wan manages to clear away the darkness around that particular memory, and he eases his way out of Jango’s mind.
Meanwhile, Jango lets out a long string of curses under his breath. Some of the foulest language Obi-wan has heard really. But then, Jango hisses, " Dooku ," his face twisting in not just pain but rage --
Before he passes out cold.
" Dad! " Boba cries, as Jango slumps over, fortunately in Obi-wan’s direction.
Obi-wan quickly catches Jango, grunting under his unexpected weight but wrapping his arms around Jango and almost reflexively pulling him close. Obi-wan takes a moment to check that he’s all right, before sighing in relief. He turns to Boba, who has leapt off the couch and now hovers beside them with large eyes full of worry.
“He’s all right. He just needs some rest,” he reassures Boba.
“Are you sure ?” Boba asks.
Obi-wan tries to look confident as he nods. “The sleep will help him recover.” He realizes suddenly how tired he is, blinking a few times to keep himself focused. “Could you--could you maybe get a blanket?” he asks.
Boba nods and immediately scampers off. Obi-wan heaves a tired sigh, and after a moment’s hesitation, maneuvers himself and Jango so that they’re stretched out across the couch, a cushion supporting his head while Jango’s head rests against his shoulder.
He relaxes under Jango’s warm and comforting weight, resting his cheek against Jango’s hair. He’s still in a little disbelief that he’s here , that they’re here. Certainly, he’s dreamed that one day they’d be reunited by chance, but that had truly been wishful thinking by this point. And yet here they are --
But with so much having happened since they had parted. So much to untangle and uncover. And what Jango had said: Dooku? Was Tyranus Dooku ? Obi-wan can’t even begin to think about that now.
Boba comes back with not one, but three large blankets nearly spilling from his arms. The boy hesitates a moment, biting his lower lip as he looks between Jango and Obi-wan, and Obi-wan holds out an arm silently. Without any more prompting needed, Boba kicks off his shoes and crawls onto the couch along with the blankets.
It’s a tight fit -- the couch isn’t exactly built for two full grown adults and a child to lie on -- and sure to be uncomfortable in a few hours, but for now, Obi-wan is perfectly happy lying there with Jango resting against him and Boba curled up against his side. All other thoughts and concerns can come later. For now , he hums contentedly, closes his eyes, and sleeps.